Livingstone urges Mayor to take action over Tube chaos

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The Independent Online

London's Mayor was today pressed to take urgent action to tackle the mounting delays and disruption on London Underground as passengers suffered fresh problems.

Labour's Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone and Labour London Assembly Transport spokesman Val Shawcross told Boris Johnson he had to "get a grip" on the Tube "chaos".

They said that over the past month there had been "serious disruption" on one or more underground lines every single day because of a combination of over-running repairs, cracks on the lines, signal failures and faulty trains, causing "misery" for millions of commuters.

There were delays in this morning's rush hour because of signal failures on the District and Piccadilly Lines and a lack of available trains on the Metropolitan Line.

Transport for London reported a good service on just four Tube lines yesterday, with nine lines either closed or part-closed, said Mr Livingstone.

"Londoners are fed up with the daily delays on the Tube. It's about time that the Mayor acted to tackle the failures which are causing misery for millions of commuters.

"On October 22 Boris Johnson said he had ordered Transport for London to, 'pull their socks up', and said he was 'fuming with exasperation'. However, the delays and disruption have continued and Londoners continue to suffer daily delays and chaos to their journeys.

"Under Boris Johnson, reports of passengers being forced to evacuate trains and walk through underground tunnels have become a regular occurrence.

"The Mayor's refusal to meet representatives of the transport unions and failure to show any leadership in dealing with the industrial action has meant London has suffered three major Tube strikes," he said.

Val Shawcross said: "The Mayor has taken his eye off the ball on his key responsibility of keeping the Tube running.

"He is clearly not managing the planned closures and his inaction has caused a crisis in industrial relations on the transport network.

"Nearly every day there is a signal failure or major delay on the Tube. It's time Boris paid some attention and time to the things that really matter to Londoners."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "We warned that trying to run a modern Tube service on infrastructure past its sell by date with too few staff would lead to repeated breakdowns, and the last month has rammed that point home with a vengeance."

Meanwhile talks aimed at averting more strikes by Tube workers in a row over job losses will resume at the conciliation service Acas today.

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London's transport adviser, said: "The Mayor watches the levels of service on the Tube from a screen in his office like a hawk and is in constant contact with Tube chiefs about what needs to be done.

"More fundamentally, he put an end to the Public Private Partnership that has caused huge disruption and has been able to secure unprecedented levels of investment, despite the toughest of economic backgrounds, which will remedy these problems, add 30% capacity to the Tube and protect the economic prosperity of the capital.

"We utterly reject the easy rhetoric and gall of the former mayor who refused to condemn recent strikes and left behind a gaping black hole in finances as well as Tube upgrades that were spiralling over budget and over time."

Labour MP Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) wrote on Twitter today: "Losing patience with tfl - service isn't up to scratch as delays on both vic line & jubilee line. Announcements a good service v insulting!"