Union warns over cuts in Tube checks

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The Independent Online

Union leaders warned today that safety standards on London Underground were being cut to "dangerous levels" over moves to reduce inspections of escalators on a busy Tube line.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union complained that twice- weekly inspection of escalators on the Jubilee Line will be cut to once a week.

The union has already raised safety fears over a move to change the 12-week frequency of signal maintenance on the Jubilee Line to a 16-week cycle.

RMT officials will raise the issues at a meeting of LU's Health and Safety Forum today with a demand that the cuts be reversed as a matter of urgency.

General secretary Bob Crow said: "We are demanding the intervention of Transport for London chairman Boris Johnson to reverse the safety and maintenance cuts programme which is leaking out in dribs and drabs from Tube Lines.

"These are dangerous reductions in key maintenance and safety frequencies that will set alarm bells ringing for staff and passengers alike."

A TfL spokesman said: "Safety is our top priority and this is yet more irresponsible scaremongering by the RMT. Tube Lines has requested a reduction in escalator inspections as escalators have changed considerably over the past two decades.

"Most notably, escalators are no longer of wood construction. We are consulting with the London Fire Brigade on this issue and will obtain full assurances from Tube Lines before any decision is made.

"On signalling, Tube Lines has made a request for a small change in inspection patterns which does not affect the safety or operation of the railway, and which we have agreed to.

"We would never compromise safety and we have instructed Tube Lines to monitor its new inspection regime for the next year."