Saturday, March 1, 2014

February 27, 2014 7:02 pm

London mayor approves driverless Tube trains

By Mark Odell and James Pickford

The End Of The Line - London Underground Celebrates It's 150th Anniversary©Getty The upgrade plan is centred on the system deep lines, starting with the Piccadilly
London’s mayor has approved plans to order driverless trains for the Underground, prompting one of the Tube’s unions to promise “all-out war”.
Transport for Londonwill launch the procurement of 100 new trains for the Piccadilly line on Friday.
“We can’t stand still and must continue to invest to meet the needs of London’s rapidly growing population,” said Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground.
These would be the first London Tube trains without drivers’ cabs and part of a fleet of 200 new trains that are part of a £10bn upgrade of four of the network’s deep lines over the next 20 years.
The leaders of the two drivers’ unions reacted with anger and promised to bring the system to a standstill. The prospect of further disruption comes less than two weeks after Transport for London brokered an uneasy truce with two of its unions over plans to close all Tube ticket offices.
“It would be all-out war and we will do everything to protect our colleagues on the Piccadilly Line,” said Mick Whelan, secretary-general of Aslef, the train drivers union, which has about 60 per cent of drivers on the London Underground.
Bob Crow, leader of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: “Any attempt to introduce driverless trains on the system will result in an all-out campaign for industrial action. The union has made it absolutely clear that [removing drivers] would compromise the safety of the public and our members and we are not having it.” The RMT accounts for the other 40 per cent of Tube drivers.
Industrial action by drivers would cripple the network, in contrast to the action by station staff earlier this month, which led to widespread disruption but in which some services still ran on almost all lines.
A spokesman for TfL said Mike Brown, head of London Underground, had already pledged that no jobs would be lost among existing staff because of introducing driverless trains.
He rejected suggestions that the timing was poor given the state of industrial relations.
The first trains without a driver’s cab, dubbed the New Tube for London, are due to go into service on the Piccadilly Line in the early 2020s as part of a signalling upgrade that would increase capacity on the route by 60 per cent by 2025.
New rolling stock, based on the same design, would then follow on the Central, Bakerloo and Waterloo & City lines and be fully operational by 2033.
Mr Johnson has been a scathing critic of the transport unions, calling for curbs on their powers with a proposed 50 per cent minimum turnout rule for strike ballots.


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