Socialist Worker

Tube flood could have ended in disaster, says union

Issue No. 2247

The RMT transport union last week demanded an urgent review of safety procedures after flooding at London’s Charing Cross station almost ended in disaster.

Contractors severed a pipe feeding the Trafalgar Square fountains on the morning of 24 March. Some 375,000 litres of water flooded Charing Cross tube station.

London Underground activated its “Silver Control” procedure, which was overseen by chief operating officer Howard Collins, and shut down services. It began pumping out the water.

The incident log shows that there was pressure to get the service back on as soon as possible. At 4.38pm a decision was taken to turn the current back on.

That request was just about to go ahead when it was realised that there were still staff on the track at Embankment. This could have put lives at risk.

An internal report found that there was a lack of “command and control”.

The RMT is demanding assurances that this “shambolic” management doesn’t happen again. There are fears that mayor Boris John’s £7.6 billion of cuts will make matters worse.

Meanwhile, the union is balloting all its driver members on the tube for strikes in defence of sacked reps Arwyn Thomas and Eamon Lynch. The ballot closes on 27 April.

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Tue 12 Apr 2011, 18:33 BST
Issue No. 2247
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