During the furore which followed the allegation that evidence supporting intervention in Iraq had been “sexed up”, one lasting impression remained, that Andrew Gilligan, who has not been welcome at the BBC since, had been a little too keen to put the boot into Tone and Big Al, so keen that his evidence to the subsequent Hutton Enquiry did not hold up at all well.
That impression is merely reinforced by Gilligan’s latest hatchet job – published yesterday by the Maily Telegraph – on transport journalist Christian Wolmar. London based readers of the Telegraph will not be surprised that Gilligan has gone in to bat for occasional mayor and regular collector of “chicken feed” from that same paper, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
Bozza had been suggesting that “driverless trains” could mean an end to industrial action disrupting Londoners’ travel, but as I pointed out on Friday, the extent of Automatic Train Operation (ATO) on London Underground (LU) is not that great, and there is a continuing requirement for a Train Operator (TOp) even when ATO is in use. Wolmar has effectively underscored my analysis.
DLR - different system, and a driver on board
But here he has a problem: although train movement on the DLR is, for most of the time, automated, those trains are not, strictly speaking, driverless. Each DLR service carries a Passenger Services Agent (PSA) – these used to be called “Train Captains” – whose skill set includes the ability to drive the train when required, in addition to other tasks like revenue protection (most of the DLR is not barriered).
And, of course, the DLR and LU are two separate entities. Moreover, neither have done away with having a properly trained driver on board, and nor will they in the foreseeable future. That Gilligan chooses to ignore such mildly inconvenient facts in order to cheer for Bozza confirms not only his political leanings, but also a continuing insistence on working back from his conclusions in his own wilful and selective manner.
Small wonder, then, that the Beeb has not welcomed him back, and will not be doing any time soon.