May 22 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, July 19, 2012
London Underground has said it will still need drivers even after a time when driverless trains are running on the Tube.
The plan is that from the turn of the next decade trains could be operating without the need for traditional drivers to control them.
However, Gareth Powell, London Underground director of strategy, said: “Given the technology now available it is very unlikely that London Underground will ever again buy a fleet of trains with conventional drivers’ cabs following the rollout of 191 new trains on the District, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines in 2016.
“Safety will always be our top priority and we have made no secret that from the 2020s new trains could operate on the Tube without the need for traditional drivers.
“However we are committed to having visible staffing at our stations.
“We will always consult with staff on any changes and, because of the timescales needed to develop and introduce new trains and to phase out older fleets, we will continue to need drivers well beyond the point when driverless operation could come into effect.”
The pledge on drivers comes after the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union claimed trials of driverless Tube trains will start later this year.
The union said it had seen an internal document exposing a “secret agenda” to move the Jubilee line to driverless operation within three years, with other lines to follow.
General secretary Bob Crow said: “This is Boris Johnson’s driverless and de-staffed plan for the future of the Tube in the raw and it is a lethal combination of cash-led cuts and ignorance that would leave Londoners riding a daily death trap.
“The plan talks about ‘unattended trains’ on lines where breakdowns and failures are a regular occurrence and where de-training through dark and dangerous tunnels is a fact of life.
“The proposals seek to rip up every safety rule in the book - leaving stations unstaffed in contradiction of long-standing regulations and having the trains run by remote control from signal boxes.
“Now that the truth of Boris Johnson’s hidden agenda for London Underground is out in the daylight, RMT is demanding cast-iron assurances that this whole poisonous cocktail of proposals has been dumped for good and we will have no hesitation in taking the action required to stop this politically and cash-led drive towards total chaos beneath London.”