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Saturday 11 July 2015

Guido Fawked - Robot Tube Spin Busted

When not cheering for driver and rider matching service Uber at the expense of London’s cabbies, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog are working a vaguely related sideline in propaganda about the future of the capital’s Underground system. This latter has been entrusted to new recruit Jeremy Wilson, because he does Technology, and, er, it’s about technology, innit?
Fart in Tube station lift inquiry fails to reach street level

Sadly, as Zelo Street regulars will know, Techno Guido, as Wilson is nicknamed chez Fawkes, clearly knows jack shit about the Underground, but then, in the land of the blind, the partially sighted man can look forward to significant career advancement. So off has gone Wilson, telling “The tube strike is over and, courtesy of Google Trends, Techno can provide some insight into what Londoners thought of the £50,000-a-year drivers who made them late for work. Searches for ‘driverless trains’ rocketed over the last 24 hours”.

Which means what, exactly, other than that there is a strong Ron Hopeful tendency among the capital’s commuters? It means referring back to the last, and already discredited, post on the subject: “As Techno has revealed before, the only thing stopping the introduction of driverless tubes is the lack of political will to get tough on the trade unionists currently driving them. Robots don’t strike”.

There you are, readers - all it needs is “political will”. Would Sir like to tell the readers exactly how much time - and money - that translates into? Clearly not, so I will. First off, let’s remember that Automatic Train Operation, or ATO, does not mean automation. There is still a Train Operator in the front cab. Who is a member of a Trades Union.
Central Line - no automation in sight

He or she is there to do the station work - at most times, there are no platform staff present - as well as drive the train when needed, which tends to be a lot for lines that run on the surface (half of the “Underground” network is actually above ground). The Train Operator fixes minor problems with the trains - not an option with robots - and deals with all kinds of emergencies (ditto). That last includes the occasional evacuation.

But just imagine there was to be a drive for automation. There would then need to be a signalling system able to run the trains automatically. There isn’t one right now. Stations would need to be adapted. It’s possible that deep level tube tunnels without walkways - that would be all the older ones - could not be made driverless for safety reasons. And then you would have to have trains that could run without drivers.

There aren’t any right now. Bozza’s mocked up New Tube For London is no more than that - there’s no money to order it. The last attempt to install a signalling system that could have supported automatic running - for the Sub-Surface Lines - collapsed when Bombardier withdrew and the contract had to be re-let. And the 24-hour Tube at weekends, plus higher train frequencies, means one thing - more drivers. In Unions.

All of which means no automated Tube this side of 2030, if ever. The Fawkes rabble are full value for their 4% positive trust rating. Another fine mess, once again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tim, Here are some relevant questions:

Who will own the robots? How can the electorate democratically get rid of the owners when they go against public interest or commit crimes via the robots?

A bit like mass murdering drones, really...............