Disruption on Tube prompts inquiry call

A leading rail union yesterday called for an inquiry into the running of London Underground after claiming that spending cuts over recent years led to this week’s chaos on the Tube.

Services have been disrupted throughout the week because of a series of problems to signals and trains.

Several hundred passengers who were led through a tunnel on Wednesday evening after a Jubilee Line train broke down are to be paid £40 each in compensation, while the Circle and District Lines were severely disrupted throughout Thursday because of a signal failure.

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Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, demanded a public inquiry, saying: “The reality of years of cutbacks to maintenance schedules, track patrols and staffing levels has hit home with a vengeance in the past week.

“With the Olympics only weeks away, now is the time to conduct a full inquiry to get to the truth of this public transport crisis with the emphasis on the impact of the years of cuts and cavalier mismanagement.”

Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground, said: “The year which ended at the end of March saw record levels of performance by any measure of fact, least delays caused by mechanical failures in our history, most service ever operated and largest numbers of passengers carried, as well the highest ever satisfaction as measured by our customers.

“We are never complacent and will of course continue to invest in upgrading the Tube network and improving the reliability of both old and newer parts of the system.

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People working on the Tube do a good job in often challenging circumstances. It would be good for a union which claims to represent some of them to recognise that fact occasionally.”

There were further problems last night when a power failure led to the suspension of London Overground services between Richmond in south-west London and Stratford in east London.

This was the second night running that trains on this line had been held up.