800 Tube jobs to be axed

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The Independent Online

London Underground is to axe up to 800 jobs under plans to make savings of £16 million a year, the transport giant announced today.

The cuts will include 100 managers, 450 ticket office posts and up to 200 other jobs, although London Underground (LU) said it was committed to achieving the losses without any compulsory redundancies.

The company said it would achieve job reductions by not filling vacancies, offering voluntary severance and flexible working, and transferring staff to areas of greater customer need.

Between 700 and 800 jobs will be cut, but LU said no Tube station ticket office would close and staff will remain available to help travellers in ticket halls, gate lines and on platforms.

The number of CCTV cameras is set to increase by 2,000 to 14,000 over the next few years and the number of police patrolling the network has risen from 450 to more than 700, managers said.

LU said the proposals, including the job cuts, reflected the "huge success" of the pre-paid Oyster card, which now accounts for around 80% of Tube journeys.

There has been a "sharp decline" in tickets sold at station ticket offices in recent years, with just one in 20 Tube journeys starting with a ticket office transaction.

A network of 4,000 ticket shops now exists at shops and retail outlets across the capital, and there is growing use of internet sales and automatic top-ups, backed up by more self-service ticket machines at stations, said LU.

LU managing director Richard Parry said: "London Underground is committed to continuing to provide a safe and reliable service while operating even more services as we upgrade lines, create more capacity and respond to the changing requirements of our customers.

"We've set out these proposals today because we want to work with our staff, trades unions, customers and key stakeholders to ensure that we can deliver the best customer service more efficiently.

"Our customers and staff should be assured that all of our stations will continue to be staffed at all times while trains are operating, and all stations with a ticket office will continue to have one.

"CCTV on stations will continue to increase and the investment we've made in police to over 700 officers has cut crime in recent years, down 8% last year.

"We are also committed to delivering any change with no compulsory redundancies and, where reductions in posts are necessary, we'll first seek to avoid filling vacancies and redeploy staff to areas where they will be needed in future."

LU said that since February 2006 it had seen a 28% decrease in ticket office transactions, and a 47% increase in sales at self-service machines, while passenger levels rose to their highest ever, at more than one billion per year.

Passenger-operated machines have more than 3.5 million more sales per month than ticket offices, which now account for a third of all sales on the network.

Unions reacted furiously to the announcement, which they said confirmed suspicions they have had for several weeks that LU was drawing up plans to cut jobs.

Gerry Doherty, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, accused London Mayor Boris Johnson of "betraying" passengers and staff.

"He was elected promising to keep ticket offices fully open and fully staffed. He has now broken that promise. We shall fight this all the way if any of our members are threatened with compulsory redundancy."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "If these cuts to jobs are bulldozed through by Transport for London it will turn London's tube stations into a muggers paradise.

"RMT will fight to protect passenger and staff security on London Underground and in the event of compulsory redundancies and the undermining of tube safety we will have no hesitation in balloting for action."