The Reader: Tube union tries to have it both ways on passenger safety

FURTHER to your story, [“District line walkout for driver ‘who went through three red lights’ set to cause travel chaos” April 13], when rail companies want to remove guards in favour of driver-operated trains, the rail unions call strikes citing passenger safety as the reason.

The unions claim that such a move increases passenger risk. But the Underground has had driver-operated trains for decades and enjoys a fantastic safety record.

Yet when TfL redeploys a Tube driver who has passed three red lights (putting passengers in danger), Aslef calls a strike, completely ignoring the fact that the driver in question actually put passengers in danger.

What if TfL had taken no action and this driver had passed another red light and caused an accident in which passengers were injured or killed?
Pete Dobson

THE unions have been passionate about keeping guards on trains for safety reasons. So how can they support someone who has repeatedly put passengers at risk? It’s yet another example of protectionism and an excuse to punish long-suffering travellers.

TfL has been very generous to give that person an office position. In  most other organisations he would be out of a job.
Debbie Gowns


Dear Pete and Debbie

YOU’RE right that last week’s strike on the District line was infuriating for all of us who use it. Rail unions are risking the patience of Londoners — and by striking in support of a driver who’d agreed to move jobs after passing three red lights, they can hardly claim to be putting safety first.

It’s telling that while drivers at Acton depot voted to strike, those at Earl’s Court weren’t persuaded to join in. So even union members didn’t seem convinced.

Really, this is about control. Who decides when trains can run? Rail unions still have great power — and Tube drivers are very well paid — but I used the DLR a lot, which has never had drivers, and testing has just begun this year of automatic operation on Thameslink in central London.

Senseless strikes like these will only encourage the switch to new technology, which should help passengers but in the end could  leave drivers wishing they hadn’t walked out so often.

Julian Glover, Associate Editor

UK should take the lead on gay rights in the Commonwealth

IT IS utterly unacceptable and shameful that 37 of 53 countries in the Commonwealth, an organisation that the UK founded, criminalise homosexuality [“Gold hero Tom’s gay rights rallying cry” April 13].

The UK will now chair the Commonwealth for two years. The UK Government should, where appropriate, use the powerful resources it has — including the promise of new trade deals and aid funding — to help lead the push for decriminalisation of homosexuality across the Commonwealth.

After Brexit, Britain must not only be a global leader in free trade, as the Prime Minister has advocated, but human rights too. Helping to decriminalise homosexuality across the Commonwealth would be a record that global “Britain” could be very proud of.
Ryan Shorthouse
Director, Bright Blue

Give amnesty to Windrush settlers

THIS week sees London host the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. We hope our government will use this opportunity to announce an amnesty to the Windrush Generation who are currently threatened with deportation and the loss of their rights, although they have worked and lived here all their adult lives.

Why hasn’t the Home Office maintained proper records  — it is causing such distress. These are Londoners who came as children, attended London schools, worked and made their lives here. Now they are threatened with deportation.

This country invited the Windrush Generation as British subjects. Will the Government act this week to stop all deportations, change the burden of proof and establish an amnesty?
Pauline Pearce, Chris Maines
Liberal Democrat candidates

Bombing of Syria was unjustified

TWO wrongs do not make a right, even when the wrong is a chemical attack.

The bombing of Syria by the US,  UK and France is unjustified. We were not under threat of imminent attack. Mrs May bypassed Parliament and the UN to bomb Syria, and in doing so has flouted international law.

Couching this wanton populism under the banns of humanitarianism just won’t wash. Heaven forbid that British policy should now, as it appears, be hanging on Donald Trump’s every word.

Why bypass the UN in these circumstances? What gives May the right to act as an international policeman? Yes, the UK may not poison its citizens but we somehow claim the right to blow other country’s civilians to bits.
Julie Partridge

Take advantage of the new YIMBYs

THE rise of YIMBYs [“More Londoners happy to back building homes in their backyards” April 11] is the shift we need. It is refreshing to see the sentiment swing in favour of millennials and those struggling to get on the property ladder.

We need to start thinking about future generations, and if that means sacrificing some allotment space, then so be it. With the number of homeowners in the 25-29 age bracket dropping by up to 50 per cent since 1990, we must re-evaluate our attitudes by altering the correlation between affluent areas and difficulty in getting planning permission.

We need to encourage a sense of community, not isolate those who didn’t have the advantage of capitalising on an affordable property market or the Bank of Mum and Dad.
Andy Scott

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