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Union calls for TfL workforce review as staff cuts have ‘created a death trap’

Staff cuts on the London Underground (LU) are putting passenger safety at risk, RMT has warned following a leaked 21-page TfL report into an incident where a passenger was trapped between the train and platform at Canning Town.

The woman’s foot was trapped for about 15 minutes during the morning rush hour on 26 May, with LU struggling to respond in time because the control room at Canning Town had recently switched to unstaffed operation.

TfL’s safety report into the incident said: “With the control room at Canning Town being unstaffed there was no central base for communications to flow in and out of.

“Station classification led to low numbers of staff being present to manage an emergency. The current operating model did not match customer demand or resourcing levels.”

It added that TfL had also “failed” to conduct a post-implementation review responsible for identifying any issues following staffing changes. Before the shake-up, control rooms were staffed by an assistant who could contact other control centres.

John Leach, a regional organiser at the RMT rail union, told RTM that the union’s opposition to staff cuts was “vindicated” by the report.

“They’ve created a death trap,” he added.

Leach said RMT’s opposition to the cuts wasn’t about opposing new technology, but about “old technology having the people that run it taken away”.

Mick Cash, the union’s general secretary, called on LU to bring forward a planned one-year review of the new staffing arrangements, due to start in six months.

In response, Steve Griffiths, LU’s chief operating officer, said TfL will be carrying out a review.

“The safety of our customers is always our top priority and our staff were on site within seconds to help the customer,” he added.

“The emergency services were also called within minutes to resolve the situation as safely as possible.

“Thankfully, incidents of this nature are extremely rare at Canning Town and as our report makes clear, we are carrying out a full review.”

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has also recently commissioned London TravelWatch to review the impact of the closure of ticket offices on the Underground.

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Dave H   23/09/2016 at 12:06

Don't recall any RAIB notification coming out after this and not found any sign they have issued a bulletin or are investgating. Have I missed something or have LUL not followed procedure to immediately inform RAIB?

Martin T   23/09/2016 at 14:50

Any safe operation is not achieved by throwing lots of people at it (which is the RMT's solution for everything) but to have proper processes in place to cope with incidents and then implement them. This is the 21th century, not the 19th century. People may be one solution but they are not the only solution.

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