Rail unions bosses have promised to fight tooth and nail against the London Underground's plan to bring driverless trains to the Tube.
Following the London Underground's announcement that the company has officially started looking for driverless train suppliers, the union representatives have expressed their determination to prevent the implementation of the technology that would threaten train-drivers' jobs.
"We have made it clear we are not having any moves to driverless operation on the Underground and any attempts to bulldoze it through on the Piccadilly Line would make the last Tube strikes look like a vicars' tea party,” said Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).
"RMT will not allow Tube safety to be sacrificed on the altar of driverless operation and we are geared up and ready to go to war on this one."
According to information released today, London Underground wants to purchase 250 next-generation driverless trains to operate on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines. The news will most likely please all passengers as it means the deep-level sections of those lines will be air-conditioned for the first time in history.
The Piccadilly line is expected to be the first to see the new trains rolled out. Although the official invitation to tender for potential suppliers is expected to be released in early 2015, London Underground has already placed a notice with the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) seeking expressions of interest to build the new trains.
Part of the deal will be provision of modern signalling systems to make the Tube services more reliable and able to accommodate London’s growing population.
Following the modernisation, the capacity of the Piccadilly line should increase by 60 per cent. The capacity of the Waterloo & City line would grow by 50 per cent and of Central and Bakerloo lines by 25 per cent.
"This vital modernisation of our trains and signalling will ensure an even more comfortable, frequent and reliable service for hard-working commuters and visitors to the capital,” the Mayor of London Boris Johnson has commented.
Other world cities have already employed driverless technology. Paris, for example, introduced driverless trains on the Line 1 of its Metro in January 2013. In London, driverless trains are operated at Heathrow airport.