Tuesday 18 January 2011

Sunday was pretty straight forward, due to the engineering works at MAA I had get a taxi over to WHC to pick up my train, stayed overnight at WER before coming back in the morning. With so little to report I am going to address the stories involving ASLEF and the Tube that started flying around last week.

On Monday the Evening Standard ran a story that ASLEF were planning a strike of the day of the Royal Wedding unless we received triple pay and a day in lieu, oddly the OTT demand we had made when LUL refused to budge on Boxing Day. ASLEF immediately responded by declaring the report “premature”, that we were due to resume negotiations with LUL on all Bank Holiday working, that this hadn’t been raised at our executive committee and that no ballot had been held let alone supported by us members.

This was completely ignored by the press and media as we became the target of a storm of condemnation for threatening to ruin Wills and Kate’s big day with our greed and general lack of patriotic feeling. The finally stupidity was Ed Milliband declaring he was “appalled” on the Andrew Marr Show Sunday morning. The fact that as ASLEF is still associated with the Labour Party unlike RMT and as the Union vote helped Ed to win the leadership the least he could have done was to check with us to ask if we were threatening strike action before going on national TV and condemning us. Looks like I voted for Teflon Tony part 2.

Then on Thursday Boris made a speech where he claimed that driverless trains could be just around the corner, that there were three lines where the trains did all the driving already and that anyone could drive a Tube train after a few weeks anyway so the Unions had better watch out. This was greeted with euphoria by the slavering dogs of the anti-Union brigade and was, obviously, complete and utter bollocks.

Admittedly the Tube could start to convert to NoPO any time they wanted but it would cost billions and the money simply isn’t there. TfL depends on government subsidy and that was slashed when the Coalition came in, the Mayor could never raise the sort of money through taxation and after the PPP disaster the private sector won’t come within a mile of the Tube.

There are two lines that operate under ATO, the Victoria and the Central, while the Jubilee is currently in the process of being converted. Anyone who’s read this blog will know just how effective ATO is on the Central Line so if Boris thinks these train can be left to run themselves then he’s deluded.

Same for his claim that TOps take a matter of weeks to get licenced, my training took 5 months. Anyone interested here is another TOps training diary, a little too much detail for me but if you are that interested help yourself.


Anyway after all this rubbish and fakery the real interesting bit; on Friday it was revealed that Boris had sent a letter to ASLEF Gen Sec Keith Norman asking him for face to face talks “at his earliest convenience” to discuss a variety of topics including Bank holiday working, Tube funding and the Olympics. As Boris has consistently refused to talk to any Union who were threatening strike action I guess this means we aren't.

Perhaps the first piece of business should be Boris offering an apology for the “anyone can drive a train” remark………


  1. While I'm not entirely on the side of RMT when it came to the recent strikes, I know ASLEF didn't actually plan to call the wedding day one, and the statement that anyone can drive a train with training boggles my mind. Boris is basically saying that people can be trained to drive trains. Who does he think currently gets trained to do it, aliens or mutants or something?

  2. Congratulations on getting your letter published in the Standard - came as a bit of a shock when I read it!

    (Although it's always quite satisfying when I can claim to have read a blog before the mainstream media discovered it. When Winston Smith got his article on the front page of the Society Guardian, I felt incredibly smug that I'd already been reading him for six months.)

  3. Thank you both though I didn't realise that I'd been published in ES, when was it and more importantly what did I say?

    As for Boris if it hasn't got two wheels and pedals or a hop-on hop-off platform at the back he doesn't really understand public transport nor do I think he's really that interested. If it presents a photo opportunity that helps too....

  4. It was published on Monday 17th, in the bottom-left corner of page 45:

    "I WORK on the Central line, one with the "fully automated" trains Boris speaks of. Last week I lost count of the number of times the train stopped halfway into a platform because of the rain. Each time I had to switch from auto to manual and bring the train into the platform myself. In the end I gave up and just drove the train manually because it was quicker."