8.20 Bomb goes off on 8.20 London Tube line
9.30 Planned announcement of TfL jobs cull is quietly spiked
A TERRORIST attack on the London Underground yesterday led transport unions to warn that Tory-led cuts are putting lives in danger.
The explosion on a District Line train at Parsons Green occurred just over an hour before transport bosses had been due to announce the extension of a job cuts programme. Passengers described how a blast from what looked like “a bucket of mayonnaise” sent a “fireball” and a “wall of flame” through the carriages, triggering scenes of chaos and panic.
Scores of passengers were injured in the “uncontrolled evacuation” of the train. A total of 22 patients were treated in hospital, with a number suffering from burns.
Police confirmed they were treating the incident as a terror attack.
Transport for London (TfL) had planned to confirm more ticket office closures and further reductions in station staffing as part of “modernisation” plans for the Tube, but the announcement was shelved following the attack, in which a device exploded on a packed train at 8.20am during rush hour.
Rail unions RMT and TSSA have led a campaign against the closures and vowed that they will not allow safety standards to be jeopardised or stations left unstaffed.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the new TfL plans bore a striking similarity to its Fit For The Future programme, which led to cuts and industrial action by rail unions.
Mr Cash said: “The incident shows once again that Tube staff are the first responders in emergency situations and the clear need for safety and security to remain the number one priority and for the resources and staffing to be in place to deal with all eventualities.”
Theresa May condemned the attack as “cowardly” and said there had been an obvious attempt to cause serious harm.
The PM praised the emergency services and said: “We do need to ensure we are dealing with not just the terrorist threat but with the extremism and the hate that can actually incite that terrorism.
“That is why we are looking very carefully at the powers that our police and security services have to make sure they have the powers they need.”
However, London Mayor Sadiq Khan argued that the attack highlighted the case for additional funding of the police.
He said: “Today may not be the day to say this at the Cobra meeting, but I’m not going to resile from what I’ve been saying over the last 16 months, which is that London needs more resources to keep our city safe.
“Since 2010, we’ve lost hundreds of millions of pounds from the police budget, we’ve had to reduce police staff, we’ve had to sell off police stations.
“It’s simply not possible for a global city like London to carry on keeping our citizens, visitors and businesses safe if the government carries on making the cuts they’ve been making.”
Just a month ago, transport unions warned of potential terrorist attacks on Britain’s rail networks after Isis’s monthly magazine published detailed instructions how to derail passenger trains and urged attacks on packed platforms.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said the union’s thoughts were with those affected by the explosion and he praised emergency workers and rail staff for helping to evacuate passengers.
“Our union has long been concerned that we are not doing all we can to maximise safety on our Tube and on London’s public transport network. That’s why I have asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan to call a London transport security summit over the coming week,” he said.
TSSA confirmed that it had highlighted its specific security concerns in a paper given to London Underground (LU) bosses.
“Our members have been telling LU for months and years that the Tory-led cuts are undermining staff and passenger safety and security,” a union circular seen by the Star states.
It confirmed that bosses had refused to discuss the issue and said: “Unfortunately, it takes a major incident to concentrate minds.”
TSSA said the incident highlighted the need for unions to be engaged on safety and security issues where there is a shared responsibility