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Rail unions say restoring public funding to London Transport is a national security priority

24 October 2016

Following the "bomb threat" incident on the Jubilee Line at Greenwich North rail unions RMT and ASLEF are joining forces with the TSSA to ask the Government to restore public funding to Transport for London's as a national security priority.

Former Chancellor George Osborne, began to withdraw the £700 million central government operating grant to TfL after his budget of last November, insisting the service must be self-sufficient by 2020 and making London the only capital city in the world where the transport system in not under written by the public purse.

The first major reorganisation of services on London Underground came in April. TSSA lobbied hard behind the scenes to stop the take out the take-out of essential front-line security staff, including the dedicated CCTV monitors, station evacuation staff and left stations woefully understaffed - as the first round of reorganisational changes were introduced by Boris Johnson in April.

"Despite very real fears for our own members, TSSA and our fellow rail unions have not gone public before on the very real threats posed by downgrading of security standards on the tube. We have not wanted to alarm or raise a sense of panic amongst London's travelling public about the downgrading of security safeguards on London"s Underground," said TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes.

"But Thursday's incident on the Jubilee Line at Greenwich North, whilst thankfully harmless this time, has exposed further holes and complete blind-spots in the security procedures on the tube than even we feared. 

"We can argue all we want with TfL management and they can argue back. We will get nowhere as, in reality the task imposed on TfL management by George Osborne was an onerous, unenviable and frankly not viable one. You simply cannot drain £700 million pounds out of this system and expect it to remain one that can safeguard the public.

"Safety standards in place this time last year are simply no longer there. They have not survived the first round of cuts. Any further cuts will be a game of Russian roulette played by the Treasury with public safety. This would not be acceptable on planes and it cannot be acceptable on trains.

"The decision to remove the grant was a political one made by the austerity chancellor who believed you could cut central government budgets to build better services. So the solution has to be a political one, which is why we as rail union leaders, are coming together to diplomatically ask new Chancellor Phillip Hammond to reverse this unthought-through and unworkable decision.

"The first job of government is to keep it's people safe. The cuts already made to security provision on the tube have made that job far more difficult as we have seen this week. Further cuts will make that job impossible.

"Restoring to London it's transport operating grant is now a national security priority."

Said Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers' union: "The first duty of any government is to defend its citizens. That's why it's vital that this new government should put right the mistakes of the last and restore the cuts made last year by George Osborne in TfL's operating budget. Philip Hammond has the opportunity to help make London's citizens safer - and that's what he should do without delay.'

Said Mick Cash, General Secretary of the RMT: "The all-out assault on the TFL Operating Grant is an act of criminal irresponsibility by the Tory Government which shows yet again that they could not care less about safety on Britain's railways.

The unions will unite to fight this act of transport vandalism which come at a time of surging demand, dangerous overcrowding and heightened terrorist alert."

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