Tube managers 'forcing staff to ignore safety fears'

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The Independent Online

And the Government and the Mayor of London are allegedly putting pressure on senior managers of the Tube network to return to normal as soon as possible -despite security fears.

The accusations come in a memo from senior union officials representing drivers. The drivers want to be able to demand "spot'' fines for passengers who leave luggage unattended. Under normal circumstances staff are told to regard only hidden objects as potential explosives.

Steve Grant, of the drivers' union, Aslef, has urged his members to drive through unstaffed stations without stopping. His memo points out that such stations will be "unchecked and unpatrolled''. Drivers are also advised to withdraw any train from service where cab radios are defective. Mr Grant said the terrorist attacks underlined the need to have the radios working.

Also, any train where seat security tags or locks are missing or defective should not be allowed into service. The equipment is installed to prevent anyone placing objects under the seats.

Mr Grant said: "Further issues are still arising - ranging from political pressures on senior managers to 'return to normal' to, unfortunately, some managers who are on PRP [profit-related pay] to cut corners and pressurise worried staff - who should be reassured and supported rather than bullied. Safety measures may cause minor delay and disruption but this is preferable to possible major death and destruction.''

He says in his memo: "After the short period of reflection after these atrocities, a number of serious concerns have been highlighted to management by trade union officials."

In a briefing note to MPs the union called for enhanced technology to enable drivers to see the track ahead and the interior of carriages and said better security should be introduced at depots: "We can see the level of penetration by the amount of graffiti on tube and other trains.

A spokesman for London Underground said: "We run a mass transit service with three million passengers a day. The challenge is striking the right balance between running a service that keeps London moving while introducing stricter security measures that, in practice, can make it harder for people to travel."

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