Operational Strategy Discussion Paper July 2011: The future of the Tube?

Articles, LondonUnlockedEditorComment

More than 1,500 jobs gone. Driverless trains. Substantial ticket office reductions. A cut in operating costs by 20%, saving £2bn.

Surely any document suggesting such things would be inflammatory? Surely if it were leaked it would get the back of the Unions up? Well yes, it has.

London Underground claim that the 'discussion paper' is exactly that: "prepared purely to stimulate fresh thinking within London Underground. It has not been adopted by LU senior management, the TfL board or the mayor and so does not represent agreed proposals for change."

It's certainly very interesting fresh thinking and would - after a battle royal with the Unions - deliver a pared down, less-unionised Tube by 2020.

The question surely has to be if this is the right direction for London. The FT (£) examines the issue in detail, ending with a quote from Bob Crow:

“This ill-conceived and finance-led document ignores reality in favour of austerity. It would leave passengers stranded in tunnels with no means of evacuation and would turn the platforms and stations into a muggers and vandals paradise.”

Inflammatory? Yes. But these are important points to answer.

The 30 'travel information centres' which are planned to remain from the cull of the network's existing 258 ticket offices will deliver a step change in LU staff/customer relations. And not necessarily for the better. As for the driverless trains, some doubt the technology and timeline presented in the discussion paper.

Certainly though, this is the direction of travel for LU. Contactless payments are being rolled out which will mean fewer staff are required in ticket offices, and driverless trains are already present on the DLR.

Let's hope that this is an issue which gets a full debate in the upcoming election. What are your views?