Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who Was in Charge of the Rattling Train?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who Was in Charge of the Rattling Train?

Article excerpt


DEMANDS grew today for a complete overhaul of Tube safety after the Chancery Lane crash.

Disturbing flaws in the system have been exposed by the derailment which could bring chaos for a million commuters for two weeks as engineers check trains and try to clear the Central line track.

A motor breaking loose from underneath By the train is blamed for derailing the last four carriages on Saturday, injuring 32 people. London Underground had been warned about a disturbing noise coming from the train just before the crash.

But today there was disagreement over the crucial question - who has the ultimate responsibility for halting a rattling train? LU maintains the driver should make the final decision in consultation with the line controller. But in this case the driver would not have been aware of the severity of the problem.

The line controller had been told by a Tube employee at Bank of an "unusual noise" several stops before the crash but advised the driver to carry on through Chancery Lane to Holborn and evacuate the passengers there.

Today passengers were demanding to know why they were not evacuated at St Paul's and instead allowed to proceed to Chancery Lane where the motor sheered off as the train came into the station. Experts are questioning a system where drivers are having to make life or death decisions without proper guidance.

Steve Grant, London district secretary of Aslef, the train drivers' union, said members were "constantly reporting" incidents where they are "pressurised" to keep the service running by line controllers. He added: "It happens all the time. All that matters to LU is service, service, service.

Drivers are frightened to put their heads above the parapet."

MP Tom Brake, Lib- Dem spokesman for London, said: "There must be a change in the rules to give very clear guidance, based on safety, as to who is responsible for taking a train out of service.

"There must also be no adverse consequences if someone reports a train as faulty and it is subsequently found to be okay."

The alarm was first raised at about 1.30pm by the driver of an eastbound Central line train, who passed the faulty westbound one, driven by Steven Cusick, at Leyton depot. …

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