Sweeping changes for London Underground spark union fury22 November 2013
Transport for London (TfL) laid out a set of changes for the operation of the London Underground (LU) this morning. Notable among these are 24-hour services planned across several lines on Fridays and Saturdays, and the closure of every ticket office in the network by 2015, reportedly costing 750 jobs.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) called an immediate strike ballot in response to what it called a "lethal" and "savage" programme of cuts. TfL revealed earlier this year that it would be required to make GBP 80M (USD 130M) of cuts over the next two years, despite some of the highest fares in the world and swelling passenger numbers.
An RMT spokesman said, "RMT deplores LU's announcement today that it plans to close every ticket office [and] reorganise station staffing including the removal of station supervisors at some stations. This is a catastrophic attack on London Underground's passengers and staff. It is not aimed at improving our Tube but at saving millions of pounds following the government's 12.5 per cent cut to TfL's funding."
RMT general secretary Bob Crow added, "Throwing in the plan for night time operation at the weekends is just a smokescreen to try and camouflage the real issue which is a savage cuts to jobs, access and safety. Any move to run through the night would require huge additional capacity and staffing and wholesale changes to fleet and infrastructure maintenance that would require the agreement of the tube unions and the issue has only been flagged up today as a diversion from the massive cuts agenda."
Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground, said: "People are at the heart of this vision - our customers and staff. My commitment to London is that all Tube stations will continue to be staffed and controlled in future, with more staff visible and available to help customers buy the right ticket, plan their journey and keep them safe and secure. We will continue to make the Tube more accessible and provide assistance at stations for all our customers who need it.
Other changes include; Wi-fi coverage in all underground stations; contactless bank card payments; better disabled access; a further 30 per cent reduction in delays by 2015 relative to 2008/09; more ticket machines, and the extensive station upgrades.