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Union strike threats over ‘Driver Only’ trains absurd –

Move expected to save £5 million every year and provide a faster and more reliable Overground service

Making trains completely ‘Driver Only’ on parts of the London Overground would save an expected £5 million every year and provide a faster, safer and more reliable service.

Richard Tracey, London Assembly Member and GLA Conservatives’ spokesman for Transport condemns the threat of strike action by unions in response to TfL’s announcement that the old North London Line will become ‘driver only’ by December 2013 and the Gospel Oak to Barking Line in 2014.

Richard said:

“This is a huge gain for Londoners as the millions of pounds saved every year could be used to bear down on fares. It is pointless to have trains on the London Overground operated by a driver and a guard, when there are no guards on the rest of the London Overground or on the vast majority of mainline railways in London. Why are we paying people to simply shut doors and bell the driver to move the train?”

This outdated practice wastes passenger time by adding on about 15 seconds at each stop, amounting to six minutes wasted on the Richmond to Stratford route. There was support across the political spectrum for the Chancellor’s decision to fund the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line. Therefore, I hope there will be equally strong support for this measure that brings it and the North London Line up to the standards of the rest of the hugely popular London Overground. TfL have also made clear that trains without a guard have a better safety record than those that do.”

· Richard Tracey’s position on Driverless trains: On the London Underground, there is the capacity to introduce driverless trains. This can be done on some lines immediately and on other lines as soon as the technology is introduced. TfL should move towards driverless trains on the London Overground as soon as sufficiently advanced signalling can be introduced to make it a reality.