Leaked Document warning - London Underground

15 August 2005

A leaked HSE document warned that they were unhappy with the maintenance regime of the London Underground.


Written in May of this year it said that the standard of engineering safety breached regulations, with thousands of examples of substantial non compliance across the network.


The report goes further, that ‘the overall picture is of staff struggling to maintain and improve an inherited asset in poor condition. Much of their work is fire fighting repeat non compliance in known areas’.


Confirming the report the London underground admitted that there were 15,500 examples of ‘non compliances across the network. It said it was working to improve its performance, but the number of non compliances identified is likely to remain’.


General Secretary, Shaun Brady, said, “if the HSE have safety concerns over the system then it is irresponsible not to make the findings of the document public. ASLEF will be seeking urgent talks with the HSE and London Underground’.


“This is a wake up call for investment into the safety of the Underground and a rethink of the part privatisation of the underground”.


The document follows the serious derailment at Camden Town when the end carriage of a Northern Line train came off the tracks outside Camden Town station, injuring seven people. The RMT union claimed a member of staff had raised concerns about the Camden Town track before the derailment at the weekend.


Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday, London mayor Ken Livingstone agreed the incidents raised serious concerns about safety on the Tube.


“These crashes could be just two complete exceptions, or it could be the first indication that the privatisation of Underground management is not working out as we would have hoped it would,” he said.


Speaking to ASLEF a spokesperson at the GLA said “if the problems have a direct link to PPP then the Mayor would not hesitate in seeking emergency legislation to bring the private contracts back under control.


London Underground is now conducting an investigation into the incident, which came less than two days after a similar incident on the Piccadilly Line in Hammersmith, and less than a year after the Chancery Lane crash, which resulted in the suspension of the Central Line for 11 weeks.


Camden and Hammersmith Tube accident highlights the safety fears that ASLEF expressed in a memorandum to the Transport Sub Committee’s enquiry into the London Underground (9 March 2002).


Writing to the Transport Sub Committee, ASLEF expresses its deep concern over the fragmentation of the London Underground by dividing the operations of the trains and stations from the core of the Underground - the track, signalling, bridges, tunnels, lifts escalators, stations and train maintenance warning the committee that ‘fragmenting an integrated rail network has worrying implications for safety, planning and co-ordination’.


ASLEF argued that ‘in order for the companies to maximise profits and/or protect themselves from penalties, the maintenance and renewals programmes would ultimately be driven by financial considerations, not by safety. Therefore we believe the financial contractual structure of the PPP is in direct conflict with running a safe railway’.


With hundreds of thousands of people using the Underground network each day the travelling public must be guaranteed safe travel. Maintenance of the Underground rail infrastructure must be brought back "in-house" and as quickly as possible.


The London assembly"s transport committee is to take evidence later this week from London Underground, private contractor Tube Lines and ASLEF.


The HSE document will be the basis of a BBC programme Kenyon Confronts to be broadcast tomorrow at 19.30.

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