THE RMT transport union has called for the complete closure of the Piccadilly London Underground line until a problem with the wheels on the ageing rolling stock has been sorted.
Accumulations of fallen leaves on the track caught under the wheels during braking cause serious damage (known as “flatting”) to the wheels, resulting in a potential safety problem.
The union also says that a summit meeting needs to be called by the Mayor and London's transport commissioner, with an action plan drawn up and then properly implemented.
RMT also says that the night tube due to come in on the 16th December on the Piccadilly Line has to be postponed to protect passenger and staff safety.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "The entire Piccadilly line fleet of trains has got a major engineering problem which has finally boiled over.
“It's nothing new and it is down to pressure on services and sheer managerial incompetence. The attempt to shift the blame onto drivers and fleet engineers is disgraceful. Those workers, along with the station staff, have slogged their guts out to keep passengers safe and trains moving.
"Basically the problem is flatted wheels, which mean the train has to come off the road for a chunk of time to have the wheel checked and lathed back to safe tolerances. LU [London Underground] fleet engineers have worked under impossible management pressure to keep services running.
"But now the sheer danger of massive delays and overcrowding means that the service on the Piccadilly Line is inherently unsafe and will get worse under Night Tube.
"Our members are asking why will it be another 10 years before these 43-year-old trains are fully replaced when refurbishment clearly isn't working. It is also becoming clear that the wheels themselves are at fault and they've only recently been replaced. The contract for that job needs to be forensically examined.
"These issues have now all come together in a cumulative effect and are the reason why sections of the line were closed on Friday.
"RMT has been told the problem could take weeks to fix properly. Trying to do it on the hoof with our members taking the rap is no way to proceed. That's why consideration has to be given to the service being suspended until the trains are repaired and signed off as safe.
"We will have health and safety reps out and about from this morning advising our members and we expect an urgent response from the Mayor and his officials which we have set out today."