Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Report sparks fears over Tube jobs

A leaked London Underground report has sparked fears over Tube jobs

Union leaders have expressed alarm over a confidential London Underground report which raises the prospects of 1,500 job losses, driverless Tube trains and mass closures of ticket offices.

The internal document argues that an improved service can be delivered with 15% fewer staff as a result of new technology, including a new "wave and pay" system, under which bank cards can be used to "effortlessly" pay for journeys without having to buy a ticket.

The report, called Operational Strategy Discussion Paper, said the vast majority of ticket offices at London Underground stations will be rendered "unnecessary", adding that up to 30 will remain at major stations, staffed by "non-operational travel information specialists".

The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT), which was leaked the document, said it was a "blueprint for jobs and safety carnage".

LU described it as a discussion paper, prepared "purely to stimulate fresh thinking within London Underground", which had not been adopted by senior management, the Transport for London board or Mayor Boris Johnson, and so did not represent agreed proposals for change.

Mike Brown, LU's managing director, added: "No specific decisions have been taken about how LU will operate in future. Any proposed changes will be subject to full consultation with unions, passenger bodies and others who are central to the development of our service, which is of such vital importance to London and the wider UK economy."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, said: "This document tells us everything we need to know about the operational strategy of London Underground - massive increase in fares alongside an unprecedented attack on jobs and safety. Every single ticket office would be closed, stations left unstaffed and drivers would be thrown out of their cabs without a single thought for passenger safety."

The report, marked confidential and dated July, said that over the next decade, the introduction of automatic train control systems across the network will "radically change" the role of Tube drivers.

"As the requirements of the role are automated, it is inefficient to continue to maintain the competence of train operators in activities which are not required in the role, resulting in excessive training and competence management. The train operator role should be refocused on the customer," said the document.

The plan involves cutting 1,500 jobs, including 770 managers and station supervisors, resulting in huge savings. The report suggested savings of almost £1.8 billion could be achieved.

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