THE RMT has reacted angrily to the government’s review of Transport for London which has followed a grant of up to £1.9 billion to plug the gap in TfL’s finances as a result of the pandemic.
The review raises the possibility of driverless trains on the Underground once again. Boris Johnson spoke in favour of such a reform earlier this month while visiting the Siemens site in Goole where the new fleet of Piccadilly Line trains is to be built.
The terms of reference of the three-level review, published by the Department for Transport, include ‘the identification of opportunities to deliver further efficiencies in the medium term in relation to operating costs, including but not limited to, workforce modernisation, and exploring the feasibility of extending driverless operation from the DLR to other lines which are already automatic’.
They also include a ‘review of the current operating model and whether there are any opportunities that alternative operating models could bring over the longer term’.
RMT senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘It is utterly disgraceful that the government’s response to the heroic efforts of thousands of key tube workers who are risking their lives to keep London moving during the Covid-19 epidemic is to now threaten tube privatisation and driverless trains.
‘This not just a serious threat to safety and services it is the government using the tube as a political football and engaging in political point scoring in advance of the Mayoral elections. Make no mistake, if the government attempt to proceed with these plans there will be the mother of all battles including the option of all-out strike action.’
The DfT’s review of TfL is due to be completed by the end of August.