“Let’s not be a prisoner of the unions” – Johnson reignites driverless trains row

Unions have hit back at the Prime Minister after he restarted the dispute over driverless trains by demanding making their introduction a condition of future Transport for London funding.

The government’s £1.6bn support package for TfL runs out in September and Boris Johnson yesterday said: “You can run  trains without the need for somebody to be sitting in the driver’s cab the whole time.

“So what I will be saying to the London transport authority is let’s take advantage of this technological leap forward, let’s not be the prisoners of the unions any more, let’s go to driverless trains, and let’s make that a condition of the funding settlement for Transport for London this autumn.”

ASLEF organiser Finn Brennan said: “As always, Boris Johnson is talking nonsense about driverless trains. Slashing government funding to TfL means that they cannot afford the signalling upgrade, and other technology, that would be needed for ‘driverless trains’.

“While pretending to support a ‘great leap forward’ the Prime Minister’s policies are actually preventing any progress with transport in the capital; they mean that Londoners will suffer years of delays and overcrowding in the future.”

RMT senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: “It is outrageous for Boris Johnson to wheel out the dangerous nonsense of driverless trains as a condition of the emergency Covid-19 funding of Transport for London. This is the sort of cheap political stunt that was a hallmark of his time as Mayor and we would have hoped he would have grown up by now.

“Transport services don’t need this kind of political grandstanding to the Tory right – they need security of funding, services and jobs. ‎The Prime Minister needs to cut out this sort of garbage and get a grip of the serious challenges facing the transport sector as the lockdown eases.”

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