London tube chaos as drivers sent home without pay over safety

12 October 2005

London commuters could face major difficulties on the Northern Line after four drivers were sent home without pay for refusing to take out trains on safety grounds

The problems began last week when evidence emerged that there were problems over the mechanism that is supposed to ‘trip’ in if a red light is passed.

Urgent talks led to an agreement that all the trip mechanisms would be tested, with an interim solution of running two-person crews. That was done, and the difficulty appeared to be over.

However, today (Wednesday) it emerged that the mechanism on one of the ‘modified’ trains had failed to work, thus re-opening the entire issue.

Four drivers told managers today that their concerns over safety prevented them from feeling confident of taking trains out. They were sent home.

This, added to the general concern over safety, leaves the position back up in the air.

Discussions between Health and Safety representatives and managers broke down after the suspension of the four workers, and it is unclear how other drivers on the Northern Line will now react.

ASLEF has instructed its members not to take out any train in which they do not have entire confidence.

ALSEF’s executive committee has resolved to inform London Underground that a satisfactory conclusion must be achieved by midday on Thursday 12 October 2005 in respect of our members employed on the Northern Line. It says it is completely unacceptable that the company has taken draconian disciplinary action taken against ASLEF members for bringing a serious safety issues to the attention of the public. ASLEF will ballot its members employed by LUL for a series of 24 hour discontinuous strikes if no solution is found.

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