Driverless Tube Trains Are on the Way, Say Tory Mayoral Hopefuls

Commuters at Earls Court underground station, awaiting the arrival of a train, attempt to complete their journey on Wednesday evening, in London
REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Tube drivers are some of the best-paid low skilled workers in the country. So many Londoners were furious when they brought the entire city to a standstill this week because they don’t want to work just a few night shifts a year, to bring London in line with the likes of New York in having 24 hour trains.  

However, the grasping drivers may have shot themselves in the foot. Breitbart London attended the first Conservative London Mayoral hustings last week, where all three of the candidates present confirmed that, if elected, they will push for automated tube trains – and so put the drivers out of a job.

Simon Fawthrop, Conservative Councillor from Bromley, said: “I suspect we’re all going to be in agreement on this particular point… one of the… things we can do is try and push forward on the driverless tube trains.”

Andrew Boff, leader of the Conservative Group on the London Assembly, agreed: “Simon is right to mention driverless trains of course. We proposed this to [Boris Johnson] four years ago, and the Mayor told us we could never do driverless trains… we kept going and finally persuaded him.

“And now, all new lowland stock that is ordered for the Underground will now be capable of being driverless.”

Boff added: “As mayor, I will campaign for strikes on the underground to be banned” and said that they should be “illegal.” Fawthrop was in agreement.

Although Stephen Greenhalgh, a businessman and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said his approach would be “to not pick fights.” He added, however: “if you do pick fights, then do as Thatcher did, and make sure you win them.”

Google Trends, which analyses search data, reveals that searches for the phrase “driverless trains” shot up during the period of the 24hour strike.

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Tube drivers have a starting salary of £49,000, receive 43 days off a year and only work a 36-hour week. And it’s not just the drivers; Transport for London has confirmed to the Independent that customer service assistants start on around £30,000, with a similarly generous benefits package, and some supervisors get more than £50,000.

This compares to the starting salaries of Firefighters, Nurses, Teachers and Policemen, which all range between £21,000 and £23,000 – who work much longer hours and get less holiday.

A likely explanation as to why Tube workers have managed to engineer themselves such a comparatively cozy deal, is that by the nature of their job, they can hold one of the most politically important and productive cities on earth to ransom, at great economic cost, simply by withdrawing their labour.

The two frontrunners for the Conservative candidacy, Zac Goldsmith and Syed Kamall, were not present. But if a Conservative does win the Mayoral election in 2016, what was said at the hustings certainly indicates that they will seek to punish the rebellious drivers in some way.