How Long Before Someone Dies?

Two recent ‘wrong-side door openings’ by drivers on the Victoria line have highlighted a potentially lethal anomaly concerning that line. Trains on all lines have a ‘correct side door enable’ (CSDE) system built in, a system which prevents drivers from accidentally opening train doors on the wrong side. All lines, that is, except the Vic! Yes, believe it or not, the Victoria line does NOT have CSDE, despite the potentially lethal consequences of a wrong-side door opening event. So how did this come to be?

X marks the spot! The story starts a few years ago when HMRI carried out an assessment of the Victoria line and instructed LUL to ‘make physical changes to the Platform-Train Interface (PTI) to bring it up to the level of all other lines’ on the combine. However, because there was no explicit mention of CSDE in the instruction, LUL managers decided to bring in a somewhat cheaper option; they painted the letter ‘X’ on tunnel walls to inform drivers not to open on that side! Hardly a failsafe system.

Lives at risk Local RMT rep, Glenroy Watson, took an active interest in the issue at the time. He argued for the introduction of CSDE. He also suggested two other possible technical solutions to make it difficult for drivers to open on the wrong side, but all three ideas were rejected by management who preferred instead to impose their own high tech solution, the painted ‘X’s. The truth is that the company has been holding out for the introduction of the new rolling stock which, of course, will have some form of CSDE. In the meantime, the company has been perfectly content to put passengers’ lives and drivers’ jobs at risk every time a train arrives in a platform on the Victoria line. It’s quite amazing to think that the same company which tells everyone about their ‘world-class tube for a world-class city’ can avoid the expense of a basic safety feature whilst spending ₤6 million on the current ‘Wasting Time’ extravaganza. The lunatics have taken over this asylum!

Jobs on the line Glenroy was able to wring one solitary concession from LUL; it was agreed that drivers involved in a wrong-side door opening would no longer be charged with gross misconduct. However, the company added that ‘each case would be looked at on its merits’, which means that they still reserve the right to do whatever they want with any driver who makes this unfortunate mistake. Of the drivers involved in the two most recent wrong-side openings, one has been sacked and the other faces a Company Disciplinary Interview. When a passenger falls from a train and dies, will the cheapskate managers who made this possible hold their hands up and take their share of responsibility? Let’s just hope we never have to find out.