The GMB trades union has called on Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, to open a full independent investigation into safety practices used by operators working within the Transport for London network.
The union’s campaign has the backing of a former TfL board member Michael Liebreich, who says that “TfL is running an institutionally unsafe surface transport system”, and accusing Mayor Khan of being “supine” and “complicit”.
The GMB has repeated its representation to the Mayor of London this week, as the long-delayed inquest into the deaths of seven passengers in the Croydon tram crash in November 2016 got under way at Croydon Town Hall.
GMB Southern Region wants the Mayor to widen the scope of this investigation and look at safety practices on the capital’s buses, trams, Tube and trains more generally.
“GMB is pleased the inquest into this tragic event is finally taking place,” said Justin Bowden, the GMB’s Southern Regional Secretary. “The families of the victims – including one of our members – need some closure and reassurance and our thoughts are with them.
“There must be an immediate end to any links between punctuality and profits for transport operators at the expense of passenger safety.
“The opportunity must not be missed to examine the safety regulations regarding shift length, break times and staffing levels on TfL buses, trams and trains.”
One of the preliminary investigations into the Croydon tram crash suggested that the driver may have fallen asleep at the controls, while other reports conducted into fatigue levels among bus and tram drivers have found serious issues with the network operators’ shift patterns for their staff.
“GMB repeats our call, made at the time and passed as a motion at our National Congress in 2019, to look into the safety culture and practices as employed by TfL contract providers.
“Let us be clear, there is a choice to be made between increased safety and increased profit margins, and we feel we speak for all Londoners when we call for transport users to be better protected.”
Liebreich – once regarded as a possible Conservative candidate for London Mayor – was a member of the TfL board from 2012 to 2018, therefore including the timeof the tram crash. This week he has backed the union’s call, tweeting, “TfL is running an #InstitutionallyUnsafe surface transport system: outsourcing safety to bus and tram companies, and linking revenues to speed and miles but not to safety.”
And he added, “The Mayor of London and Unite the Union are supine and complicit.”
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