Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ANGER OVER THE 'STICKY TAPE' TUBE; More Delays on Way as 30-Year-Old Driver Radios Keep Breaking Down

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ANGER OVER THE 'STICKY TAPE' TUBE; More Delays on Way as 30-Year-Old Driver Radios Keep Breaking Down

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

TUBE commuters face more chaos because drivers' cab radios keep breaking down.

London Underground said this afternoon they could make "no guarantees" that the fault which paralysed three lines last night would not happen again.

The same problem has shut down entire lines on three separate occasions in the last nine months.

Drivers say the 30-year-old radio system-is held together "with sticky tape and good luck". The unions say a new system was promised two years ago.

Tens of thousands of passengers were stranded last night when LU ordered the suspension of the entire District and Circle lines and a large section of the Hammersmith & City line. The action was taken on safety grounds as drivers on scores of trains lost contact with their control centres when the radio system failed.

A London Underground spokesman said: "It is an old system and there is no guarantee there will not be further breakdowns. Like much of the Tube network the system is decades old. When faults happen they are dealt with, it is a maintenance problem, and work is now going on to replace the entire system."

Brian Cooke, chairman of Travel-Watch, London's passenger watchdog, said: "LU must keep up the pressure to ensure the new system is fitted as quickly as possible.

"Entire lines having to be suspended because of a breakdown of equipment will only add to passenger concern - particularly at this time of heightened security."

The radios are being replaced with a [pounds sterling]2 billion "Connect" network through a private finance initiative.

It is already fitted on the East London line. The District line, used by more than 600,000 passengers a day, is due to be next. But it will not be in operation before the end of the year. Other lines will have have to wait until next year before it is installed.

A spokesman for the RMT union said: "We were promised a new radio system two years ago and we are still waiting. …

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