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A SECRET Transport for London (TfL) document shows that driverless trains on London Underground would cost a staggering £7 billion and would still need a driver aboard for safety reasons.
Train drivers’ union Aslef has obtained a 26-page document, which was compiled in August, saying that the huge cost means that using driverless trains is “unviable” and that the astronomic cost “shuts the door” on government demands that TfL introduce driverless trains in return for funding.
The union said today that the cost would bankrupt London Underground.
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “We know that passengers don’t want driverless trains.
“Whenever they are asked, they always answer with a resounding ‘No!’ And now we know it is not economically feasible, either.”
Aslef London Underground organiser Finn Brennan said: “Leaked internal Transport for London documents demonstrate that it would cost an additional £7 billion, on top of the money needed to upgrade existing lines, to make Underground trains ‘driverless’ and that TfL has concluded that there is, given the evidence, no economic case for doing so.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that introducing driverless trains should be a condition of a funding settlement for TfL.
“But these documents show that not only is there no business case for this, but it would make TfL’s financial position much worse.
“When Boris Johnson was Mayor of London, his failed vanity projects, like the Garden Bridge and those Boris buses, cost Londoners almost £1 billion.
“But this is dwarfed by the vast cost of his ideological obsession with driverless trains, a project that every transport expert, as well as TfL senior managers, have concluded makes no financial sense.”
He said that the documents showed that TfL knows trains would still need a driver “for the safety and security of passengers.”
“Aslef has always pointed out that driverless trains on London Underground are a politically driven fantasy,” continued Mr Brennan.
“These documents show that we are right. And if the government tries to force TfL to waste huge sums on this pointless exercise, it would suck resources away from projects that could have real positive benefits for passenger safety – and bankrupt the entire Tube network.”
A TfL spokesman said: “The possibilities, costs and benefits of driverless trains are things that TfL has looked at in the past and will continue to keep under review but it is not something we are actively pursuing.”
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