Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Revealed: The Tube Track Held Together by Wood and Nails; Passenger Watchdog Says This Picture of Victoria Line Demolishes LU's Claims That the System Is Safe

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Revealed: The Tube Track Held Together by Wood and Nails; Passenger Watchdog Says This Picture of Victoria Line Demolishes LU's Claims That the System Is Safe

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK MCGOWAN;DICK MURRAY

THIS is the alarming picture that shows one of the busiest tracks on the Tube held together with pieces of wood and bent nails.

Today passenger watchdogs and experts said this image of the Victoria line proved that safety standards on the London Underground are in need of an urgent overhaul. Tube chiefs, however, said the repair posed no danger to passengers and was being constantly monitored to guarantee safety standards.

The repair to the northbound Victoria line at Victoria has been carried out by bolting a length of hardwood into a section of conductor rail - which is already welded in several places.

The upper surface of the wood is not flush with the top of the rail, which has been either crudely ground down in an attempt to achieve a match, or has simply been worn down by train wheels.

The hardwood "rail" is supported by an ill-fitting cross-timber laid across the "suicide" pit between the tracks.

This is wedged in place - at one end with a wooden wedge but at the other with half a brick which is steadily crumbling away.

More wooden wedges intended to stop the repair moving up and down are secured by six-inch nails driven into the cross-timber.

One nail is so badly placed that it has simply been bent over to hold the wedge in position.

Cynthia Hay, of the passenger watchdog Capital Transport, said today the picture demolished LU's claim that it runs a safe system.

Ms Hay said she is sending copies of our pictures to Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, chairman of the Commons transport committee. Ms Hay said: "This is very, very worrying. LU has been saying repeatedly after Chancery Lane that they run a safe system, but these pictures demolish that claim.

"Passengers will want to know who passed this repair as fit for use on such a busy line. The way it is fixed means things could easily shake free."

That would raise the possibility of a train power shoe being ripped off by the exposed end of the rail, bringing the service to a halt and trapping trains in tunnels. Ms Hay added: "Given the number of things that are going wrong, passengers will want a public inquiry into how the Tube is being maintained." Roger Ford, technical editor of Modern Railways, said: "It is obviously a bodge job and certainly not good engineering practice. It does not look good with a brick holding it in place. It should certainly not have been like this for four weeks."

Jason Davies from Walthamstow, who alerted the Evening Standard to the repair job, said: "It is almost like something out of a cartoon. If it wasn't so serious it would be funny. In a week when a Central line train derails and dozens of passengers are hurt, you would think they would be pulling out all the stops to make the system as safe as possible. …

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