Northern line braking system fails again

Posted in Tubeworker's blog on Thu, 06/10/2005 - 15:00,

Flippin' 'eck, it's happened again. Last night, the Northern Line's emergency braking system failed for the fourth time in fourth weeks.

When the braking system failed on 9 September, the company introduced double-crewing of trains. But for who-knows-what reason (surely not cost? or fear of criticism for having to cancel trains?), they dropped it after one day, and have still not resumed it even after three further failures.

Until the techies figure out what is wrong, each and every train should be checked before coming into service each and every day. Tubeworker wouldn't drive one that hadn't been checked - would you?

RMT has said it will give complete support to drivers exercising their right to refuse to move Northern Line trains on safety grounds. We would like to see the unions move beyond pledging support to individuals, to organising a collective refusal to work.

RMT has demanded double-crewing of all Northern Line trains and daily safety checks.

As the union points out, "Under the PPP it is LUL who run the trains, Tubelines who are responsible for maintaining them, but Alstom who actually do the work (click the link and scroll down to 'Piecemeal Privatisation Continues' for an explanation).

"That is crazy enough, but under their contract Alstom have 65 days to find the fault. In such serious circumstances that is a complete nonsense, and if Alstom cannot find and rectify the fault the work should simply be brought back in-house."


Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 09/10/2005 - 22:43

LUL resumed double-crewing on Friday, and have continued it since. Could this be anything to do with train drivers refusing to drive under any other circumstances?!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 11/10/2005 - 20:30

In reply to by Tubeworker

RMT welcomes LUL intervention in Northern Line train maintenance - 11 Oct 2005

OCTOBER 11: LONDON UNDERGROUND’S biggest union has welcomed LUL’s decision to impose emergency direction on the maintenance of Northern Line trains following the private contractors’ failure to find and rectify faults in the emergency braking system.

The ‘trip-cock’ emergency braking system, designed as a failsafe to prevent trains passing signals at danger, has failed four times in as many weeks and RMT last week insisted on double-crewing, daily brake tests and urgent action to identify faults.

It is now understood that inspection by LUL engineers at the depots of Tubelines’ subcontractor Alstom unearthed a number of faults and exposed failure to maintain key components of the emergency braking system.

“We welcome LUL’s decision to impose its own emergency direction on the maintenance of these trains, and that, as a result, shortcomings in Alstom’s maintenance regime have been exposed.” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

“We also welcome the fact that daily brake checks are now being undertaken on all Northern Line trains, that certain modifications are already being made, and that our safety reps are now fully involved in finding a solution to this very serious problem.

“As a result of the emergency measures undertaken we have allowed double-crewing to be withdrawn, but our safety reps will be keeping a very close eye on developments and RMT will not hesitate to insist on its re-introduction should it become necessary.

“The private sector is making £2 million a week out of its contracts on the Tube yet it is not only failing to deliver promised improvements but has also demonstrably failed to maintain a crucial safety system to acceptable standards.

“This emergency has again exposed the sheer folly of the fragmentation of London Underground’s infrastructure, and we will continue to campaign for the work to be brought back in-house,” Bob Crow said.

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 12/10/2005 - 17:26

Yes, today the Northern Line's braking system failed once again. After previous failures, union pressure forced the companies to install fixed tripcock testers for more frequent testing of the system. And at Mill Hill East this morning, it failed.

There can be no reasonable course of action now than to withdraw the whole fleet until the problem is solved.

But the private companies involved know that this would lose them a load of money in penalty fines, so - as well as trying to pass the buck to each other - they will use any pretence to keep the service running.

Anyone would think that the PPP system puts train miles before passenger and staff safety.

Some drivers have been refusing to drive, but as we said in the original article, we need an organised and co-ordinated refusal.

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