Friday 6 December 2019

London 2012 Olympics: Fears grow of Olympic tube chaos

Fears grow of Olympic tube chaos. Photo: PA
Fears grow of Olympic tube chaos. Photo: PA

David Millward

FEARS are growing over the ability of London’s tube network to cope during the Olympics after the system suffered another catastrophic morning.

Passengers on the Circle, District and Hammersmith and City lines faced lengthy delays after two separate signal failures.

Problems were also reported on the Northern and Bakerloo lines as the difficulties on the network, which saw disruption nearly every day last week, showed little sign of improvement.

“The scale of the daily tube delays we are seeing is completely unacceptable,” said Val Shawcross, Labour’s transport spokesman.

Millions of Londoners who use the tube everyday deserve better than the terrible services they are being forced to endure,” “Boris Johnson is chair of Transport for London – he needs to take responsibility and urgently get a grip of the problem."

The biggest concern surrounds the Jubilee Line, a key Olympic artery, linking several Games venues including Wembley and Stratford to central London at a time when unprecedented numbers are expected to use the network.

“The Jubilee line is crucial,” said Tim Bellenger of London Travelwatch. “When something goes wrong on the section between Westminster and Stratford there will be a ripple impact on the rest of the network.

“If it fails, people will migrate to the Central line, which will already be extremely busy.”

Last week a meltdown on the line saw passengers being taken off a train and walked through a tunnel to safety.

It was not an isolated incident. According to Transport for London’s own statistics, more than 500,000 “customer hours” were lost on the Jubilee line to track, train and signal failures last year.

The line performed far worse than any other line on the network, despite having a newer signalling system.

Other parts of the network, notably the circle and district line, relies on signalling which is at least 40 years old.

The latest problems intensify pressure on Peter Hendy, London’s transport commissioner, who earlier this year advised commuters to avoid delays by heading down to the pub until the problems cleared.

He was rewarded by being named “beer drinker of the year” by the all-party parliamentary beer drinkers group.

But Bob Crow, leader of the RMT transport union was unimpressed. “Instead of collecting gongs from the brewers, and making smug comments advising passengers to head for the pubs rather than the tube, Peter Hendy should be getting a grip on the chaos of breakdowns and failures that has engulfed the underground just weeks away from the Olympic Games,” he said.

“RMT warned that the cuts to jobs and maintenance would plunge the network into a crisis and those who ignored those warnings are now on the brink of turning London transport into a global laughing stock.

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