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Wednesday 4 November 2015

DLR Strike - Gilligan Busted

As far back as 2009, Andrew “Transcription Error” Gilligan, cheerleader for London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, took to the pages of the Standard to tell “Earlier this summer, as Bob Crow and his RMT strikers staged their latest Tube shutdown, other transport industry professionals were unveiling a foolproof scheme to stop it ever happening again”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes?
These professionals weren't from London, where the preferred option of the Mayor, Boris Johnson - a no-strike deal with the Tube drivers - seems about as achievable as a no-rain deal with the London weather … They were from Paris”. Ah, Le vieux canard encore une fois! Line 1 of the Paris Métro was being automated, and therefore London’s Underground could, and should, immediately go the same way.

When Christian Wolmar warned that driverless operation of much of the system was not going to happen for a very long time, Gilligan airily waved him away: “For Christian Wolmar’s future reference there are, in fact, 32 cities with driverless trains in daily passenger service - not even in the near future, but right now [including] London (ours is called the DLR, Christian – it's been around since 1987, you must have heard of it.)

And so, despite the well-founded scepticism of those who knew Gilligan was talking out of the back of his neck, the spin took hold: driverless trains equalled no strikes, therefore the DLR also equalled no strikes. But the test for full automation is not merely a driverless train - that train must be able to do its job without human intervention being necessary. And the DLR’s trains require a human presence on board.

Those who work on the DLR can, and do, join a Trades Union, the RMT, which, of course, is the same union most Tube drivers have joined, and that which, until his untimely death recently, had one Bob Crow as its General Secretary. And this week those workers exercised their right to withdraw their labour. So the DLR, held up as a beacon of automation by Andrew Gilligan, was paralysed by strike action.

This time the Standard hasn’t been quite so full of levity: “Rail bosses are warning commuters in east London to expect travel chaos as the first full DLR strike in the network’s three-decade history gets under way … Workers on the Docklands Light Railway downed tools at 4am, in a move expected to flood the Jubilee, Central, District, Hammersmith and City and London Overground lines with displaced City commuters”.

By this morning, the knock-on effect of the strike had caused temporary closure of London Bridge station - which the DLR does not serve. And the Standard has now runDLR Strike: Londoners react hilariously on Twitter”, laughing at those who swallowed Gilligan’s guff about automation and the inference the DLR would not be affected by strikes, which they first read … in the Standard! You really couldn’t make it up.

Meanwhile, Gilligan is keeping a low profile. It won’t work, Andy. You’ve been busted.


Anonymous said...

Frankly I couldn't give a shit if the entire London transport network seizes up. Let them walk or become "entrepreneur" transporters who "run me own business." This is called "a free market."

In an even lighter vein, suppose the entire rat-run Underground DOES become driverless? So what? The electrical workers could still turn off the supplies when inevitably they find it necessary to strike to defend the living standards of their families.

Not that the average bribed Lahndaner lower middle class could give a flying fuck about anything except him/her self.

Good on the drivers I say.

But isn't it odd life long Socialist Bob Crow too died as this situation developed.......

Anonymous said...


Surely this is relevant:



AndyC said...

My not infrequent perambulations around London's Underground railway are more often disrupted by preventable signal-failure than by strike action. Perhaps the money TFL have donated to (squandered on) the fatuous and appalling Garden Bridge vanity project would have been better spent bringing the antiquated signals up to scratch.

Tim Fenton said...


Signalling renewals and upgrades are lagging behind, especially on the Sub-Surface Lines - Metropolitan, District, Circle and H&C - this being made worse by the resignalling contract having to be re-let, another fiasco that cost a seven figure sum for no result.

The Piccadilly Line resignalling is effectively waiting on the SSL being done, as the Picc uses the same tracks in two locations (West of Baron's Court, and Rayners Lane to Uxbridge).

Anonymous said...

When the DLR opened its staff belonged to a non-transport union (possibly the electricians' union). It was claimed in the press at the time this was because DLR staff wanted to be in a moderate TU. Some time later DLR staff decided that this union was not representing their interests and moved to a different union. Being in a moderate union was not to their liking.


Anonymous said...

"the RMT, which, of course, is the same union most Tube drivers have joined"

Minor point, and I may be wrong, but I think most tube drivers are members of ASLEF, not RMT.

SteveB said...

Do people actually pay for the Standard or is it a freebie now? Even if it is I'd doubt the value, the accompanying photos of brave commuters facing the perils of a strike are from a different strike, on a different railway, 6 years ago!! And they seem to be using the same definition of "hilarious" as those who do the schedule listings for ITV. Some say the BBC is killing off newspapers, it doesn't look like they need to bother....

jelltex said...

I'm sure that Gobshite Guido Fawkes said something similar too.

Arnold said...

SteveB, if you want abuse of the word "hilarious", try Mail Online.
"You're dead! I'm going to put you in the oven you s***!': Store workers shocked when man launches hilarious Homer Simpson-like rant over store Tannoy when his ‘son gets lost"
The word appears five times on today's home page.