Fantasy World of no-driver tubes

08 November 2011

ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman today dismissed Transport for London’s Board as ‘living in a fantasy world’ as it discussed having driverless tube trains in the next eight years. ‘They say that trains will be able to do without drivers because of the technological advances in signalling. Have they never been on a tube station in their lives?’ he asked angrily. ‘Every time you go to catch a train there are announcements of delays somewhere on the network because of signalling failures. To put the safety of millions of passengers a year in the tender hands of a system that doesn’t work would be folly of titanic proportions.’

Keith was reacting to reports that the Transport for London board has been looking at ‘broad themes’ including passenger trains ‘without conventional drivers' cabs’. One suggestion is that tube train drivers could be replaced by something they call ‘train captains’. ‘More like Titanic captains,’ snapped Keith.

‘The whole premise of this discussion centred around ‘the technology available now’. If the technology is so good, why are there daily delays because of signalling?

‘I’d like to invite the Board back to planet Earth. I’d like to see them talking about present day problems that affect millions of London passengers today – and not waste time considering an implausible future with make-believe signalling systems.’

Keith said passengers would ‘simply not accept’ an underground transport system where their safety was reliant on signals that fail every day, without the fail-safe of a human being at the front of the cab ready to react to emergencies.

‘Our tube drivers are often the difference between a safe journey and a disaster. On their return to this planet, I hope Transport for London’s Board will remember that.’

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