Driverless trains bombshell

26 October 2020

A secret Transport for London document has revealed that driverless trains on London Underground would cost a staggering £7 billion – making the plan economically unfeasible – and TfL would still need to have a driver on board.


The detailed 26 page document – compiled in August – which came into the hands of ASLEF, the train drivers' union, this morning, effectively shuts the door on one of the government's demands in return for TfL funding.


Mick Whelan, general secretary, said: 'We know that passengers don't want driverless trains. Whenever they are asked, they always answer with a resounding "No!" And now we know it is not economically feasible, either.'


Finn Brennan, ASLEF's organiser on London Underground, said: 'Leaked internal Transport for London documents demonstrate that it would cost an additional £7 billion, on top of the money needed to upgrade existing lines, to make Underground trains "driverless" and that TfL has concluded that there is, given the evidence, no economic case for doing so. In fact, the cost of conversion would make TfL's current financial crisis and the long-term funding issues facing TfL much, much worse.


'Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that introducing driverless trains should be a condition of a funding settlement for TfL. But these documents show that not only is there no business case for this, but it would make TfL's financial position much worse.


'When Boris Johnson was Mayor of London, his failed vanity projects, like the Garden Bridge and those Boris buses, cost Londoners almost £1 billion. But this is dwarfed by the vast cost of his ideological obsession with driverless trains, a project that every transport expert, as well as TfL senior managers, have concluded makes no financial sense.


'The presentation shows that, given the constraints of the Underground's infrastructure, there would still need to be a train operator on every train for the safety and security of passengers and that any cost savings are offset by the increased maintenance cost.


'ASLEF has always pointed out that driverless trains on London Underground are a politically-driven fantasy. These documents show that we are right. And if the government tries to force TfL to waste huge sums on this pointless exercise, it would suck resources away from projects that could have real positive benefits for passenger safety and bankrupt the entire Tube network.'

Back »

By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies. For more information please refer to ASLEF’s Privacy Policy