Thursday, 19 July 2012

Yesterday morning the subStandard announced that the RMT had come into possession of a document suggesting there will be trials of the new driverless train system on the Jubilee Line in the autumn during engineering hours. Seeing as there are no plans at the moment to convert the Jubilee to NoPO it seems highly unlikely that they’d be testing there rather than on the Waterloo & City where LUL have said they will be holding trials sometime after 2014.

As of yet RMT haven't produced the document and TfL released a firm denial yesterday afternoon through the BBC. LUL is a fine place for rumours so this could be Bob just trying to work up a suitable level of paranoia but at the moment the happiest people are the Tories at the GLA who still seem to believe Boris’s suggestion that driverless trains could be here tomorrow. I’m not checking the job ads just yet……

12 comments:

  1. Speaking in a purely professional manner as a Technical officer, the recurrent idea of NoPo By Next Week/Month/Year makes me giggle.

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  2. The RMT has produced the document, it’s here:
    http://www.rmtlondoncalling.org.uk/files/Deep%20Tube%20Railway%20Generic%20Operations%20And%20Maintenance%20Concept%202020.pdf
    It is undoubtedly a genuine LUL document (the dreadful grammar is a dead giveaway) and is signed by the usual suspects. My guess is that it has been leaked by somebody fairly senior with serious concerns re the direction of the railway.
    Leaving aside timescales and irrespective of the technical feasibility, let alone funding implications, the desire at the top of LUL, expressed in the document, is clear: not merely driverless trains but completely unstaffed deep level stations. No ticket offices, no gate line staff, no SATs and station checks (where they take place at all) carried out by “external security service providers”. Furthermore, it envisages detrainments, stabling, coupling, shunting and recovery of stalled trains all achieved without “attended intervention” i.e. without a TO. Unsurprisingly, “the Train is not equipped with a cab”.
    Now, I’m certainly sceptical that this is a realistic vision of the Tube in 2020 but the fact that the LUL leadership have such a vision at all is telling. The objective is a destaffed and thus highly profitable operation ready for privatisation or at least outsourcing. In my experience there has been a qualitative shift in attitudes amongst TfL and LUL directors in the last 5 years. In the months before the 2008 Mayoral election, directors and senior managers from Hendy down were fairly open re their opposition to a Johnson victory for fear of the damage such a media gadfly and political lightweight might do. However, over the first term, so many directors have bought into the agenda set by the Tory regime in City Hall (by which I mean the advisors and a few Deputy Mayors who actually run things, for Boris has very little input into policy or day to day control) that they dreaded a Livingstone victory for fear he would launch a clear out, as he did when assuming control of LUL.
    Having survived (not unscathed) the mess of the entirely politically motivated PPP foisted upon us by the Godier LUL leadership, we now face the prospect of Mike Brown leading us down an even darker and more politically determined blind alley.

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  3. The document the link leads to is the one that was originally leaked last year, the one that was first excused as a bit of "Blue sky thinking" and then later LUL admitted it was the real deal. I don't remember there being any mention of the Jubilee in it so that must be a seperate document.

    Any attempt to de-staff Section 12 stations isn't going to get very far, not only will the Fire Brigade oppose it I would expect the Met would too. How do you evacuate King's Cross or OXO during a security alert with just a PA and CCTV? Destaffing is not just impractical but potential dangerous though it doesn't surprise me that it is being considered in the ivory towers of 55.

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  4. Sorry but we are talking driverless in the sense of no driver. There will be a passenger service agent on board all trains!

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  5. Oh really? On what do you base that confident assertion?

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  6. I'm sure its UK law, other wise how would you detrain people that are stuck in the tunnels?
    Who would be there to drive in restricted manual if the TBTC fails?

    I take that assumption because I'm sure the DLR would have got rid of their PSA's by now if that was the case.

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  7. Well, as soon as someone gets hold of a document indicating that they plan to operate a managerless rail system, I'm sure there will be jubilation.

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  8. Laws can be changed. Quangos like HMRI can be abolished or merged into impotence. Attempts have already been made to weaken Section 12. Comparing the DLR, a guided tramway, to LUL is like comparing a balloon on a stick to a jumbo jet.

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  9. @offspringmadboy, have you actually read the document? It is stated that all trains and stations would be unstaffed except in exceptional circumstances, with all routine operations from driving trains to closing / evacuating stations to pre-service checks being undertaken by computers. The only workers mentioned that would regularly have contact with trains are cleaners (external contractors, of course)

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  10. I think what we are overlooking is LUL’s ambitions and what they will actually end up with. While the document certainly is top grade wank material on the top floors of 55 I don’t believe for a second this is a realistic plan for the future of the Tube. No matter how much they introduce automation at some point the system will fail and when it does they will need actual people to come sort the mess out. The obvious example is the idea that should the traction current fail the trains will have battery power to get them to the next station when traction failures are few compared to train or signal failures.

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  11. I fully back ASLEFshrugged's statement, I really cannot see a metro system like LU that is already suffering from huge problems of on train/on track failures, congestion etc go completely driverless within the next 50 years.. ATO/TBTC/ATC yes.. But not 100% driverless.
    I did read the document but these are my own opinions.
    As regards to trains moving in the result of traction discharge, I don't think battery technology has quite got there yet, you could possibly put huge banks of batteries under the seats but I'm not sure if this would be a hazard to pax.

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  12. Well, I suppose in 50 years time they will have done away with printed posters, so no need to be concerned with the revenue lost when CBS can't change their posters on a 24/7 running service. Though that's only a minor issue.

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