Strike cancelled, but storm over driverless Tube trains looms

A three-day strike set to hobble the London Underground this week has now been called off by the RMT Union.

Protesting at ticket office closures and the loss of 950 jobs, the RMT, which organised a 48-hour strike last week, said that their action had led to “significant progress” in the dispute.

However, a much larger storm is brewing.

The case for driverless Tube trains is to be ramped up by TfL, which recently announced that it would like to order rolling stock capable of full automation.

Unions have promised war if the trains are put into operation.

Yet on many London underground lines, automated systems are already in operation and drivers are in control of only the doors and setting the train in motion.

As demands on the underground network increase, automated systems will allow trains to run more frequently. The technology has also been put into operation on a line of the Paris Metro. It also met with fierce opposition from unions, and saw drivers moved to other Metro lines and promoted. However, the technology means that trains can now run every 85 seconds – faster than any London lines.

But according to the FT, an RMT spokesman described the plans as “lethal and ill-conceived” and would lead to “industrial action indefinitely”.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • OK, so we can have trains every 85 seconds, provided the unions don't get in the way. Let's assume that the safety systems are fine (DLR seems safe, no problems reported from Paris?) - how are the unions going to argue against this and not look like Luddites?

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  • they are luddites! robots don't go on strike; but you can see why rmt will fight tooth and claw. once it happens their power to blackmail is gone

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