Thursday, October 13, 2005

Safety dispute on the Northern Line

RAIL unions are calling for extra safety measures on London Underground’s Northern Line after an inspection revealed that a safety device was not working on eight or nine of the trains.
Drivers’ union Aslef advised tube train drivers working on the Northern Line to insist on having an extra person on board because of safety concerns.
The problem concerns malfunctions in a device that is supposed to “trip” in if a red light is passed. A recent examination of Northern Line tube trains showed that several tube trains did not have the trip working effectively. Either the mechanisms had eroded, were clogged with grease or were sagging.
Maintenance had been sub-contracted, but the firm involved has now been taken off the contract.
Under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme, Tube Lines and Alstom are responsible for maintenance on the Northern Line. A spokesperson for LU said it had been pressing both firms to resolve the situation for several weeks and was now directing and overseeing the work of Tube Lines and Alstom.
“The fact that they have not resolved the situation is completely unacceptable,” he said.
Early discussions between ASLEF, RMT and the management have led to agreement that depot staff would be borrowed from other lines to test all Northern Line trains before Friday morning.
Aslef insisted on a second worker allocated to each train until the problem was resolved.