London Underground software failure raises concerns about driverless trains

By Derek du Preez
10 Nov 2011 View Comments
A London Underground sign by TfL

London Underground (LU) has confirmed that it suffered a software failure last week that caused the control centre of the Jubilee line to go down for almost an hour.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union revealed yesterday that LU had undergone a "total communications and systems failure", where the screens in the Jubilee Line control room went blank for 55 minutes from 18:50 on Friday 4th November.

Further reading

Ten trains were stalled, put into manual mode and had to be disembarked, which RMT argues was good enough evidence to quash calls for the introduction of driverless trains.

"This major emergency last Friday evening exposes the lethal consequences of removing drivers from trains," said Bob Crow, RMT general secretary. "The Jubilee Line is already heavily automated, but this incident shows that you still need drivers to move into manual mode and take over when something goes wrong."

London Underground has confirmed that the problem was caused by a software failure and it is looking into why the problem occurred.

"This was caused by a software problem and a thorough investigation is underway," said Howard Collins, chief operating officer at London Underground. "We are pressing our contractors Thales to provide assurances that this will not happen again. At no point were passengers at risk, as the system prevented trains from moving into close proximity of each other."

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