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Last Updated: Monday, 2 June, 2003, 01:59 GMT 02:59 UK
Tube crash raises 'real concerns'
The Central Line train
The Central Line has now returned to a full timetable
The Chancery Lane Tube derailment was an "accident waiting to happen" and raises serious concerns about the management of London Underground (LU), a report has found.

The London Assembly's inquiry into the incident has criticised LU for failing to tackle a problem relating to faulty bracket bolts.

It accuses officials of taking action "more in line with maintaining a service than solving the underlying problem".

The Central Line was suspended for several weeks after a train derailed at Chancery Lane in January, injuring 32 people.

It was caused when a traction motor attached to the underside of the train came loose and fell on to the track, derailing carriages.

The report says more panic was caused when the train driver mistakenly operated the public address system so passengers heard the words "mayday" and "fire".

The Chancery Lane incident has raised very real concerns about the safe management of the system
John Biggs, transport committee chairman

The report by the assembly's transport committee said action taken since two earlier incidents on the Central Line had been inadequate.

In September 2001 two motors detached and became wedged underneath a train at Hainault.

After the incident London Underground (LU) began regular checks of the mounting bolts every 90 days.

A year later another motor became detached causing a derailment at Loughton - after which checks were extended to every five days and covered safety bracket bolts as well.

ESTIMATED COST
40m to London Underground
25m to the City of London
15% fall in Oxford Street retail

The report said that although the bolts on the Chancery Lane train had been inspected 48 hours before the crash, the action taken by LU seemed "more in line with maintaining a service than solving the underlying problem".

It also found that LU's decision - taken after the Loughton incident - to remove trains from service if there were any reports of a smell, noise or smoke under the car, had not been communicated to operational staff.

The committee was concerned the reduction in numbers of full-time maintenance staff and the limited availability of qualified experts able to respond immediately to reported problems, may have had an impact on January's derailment.

Continuing failure

It added that LU's statement in April that the Central Line was safe, had been undermined by its continuing failure to explain why motors were detaching.

CHANCERY LANE DERAILMENT
Guide to how the crash happened

John Biggs, chairman of the committee's Chancery Lane hearings, said: "We find it difficult to reconcile this inability to identify the cause of the problem with LU's statement that they are absolutely confident it is safe to run these trains.

"The Chancery Lane incident has raised very real concerns about the safe management of the system, about Tube management structures and about the corporate response of LU to the incident."

There have been two LU interim reports from an independent chairman into the underlying cause of the accident, which has not yet been established.




SEE ALSO:
Central Line reopens fully
12 Apr 03  |  UK
Hitches spoil Tube line reopening
03 Apr 03  |  England
Darling intervenes on Central Line
12 Mar 03  |  England


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