Driverless tube train now approaching

Posted at 4:00 pm, October 25, 2011 in News
Driverless tube trains © Rob Greig / Time Out

Driverless tube trains? Sounds like a fairly freaky idea to us, but it’s what the newspapers have been talking about all morning. According to papers leaked earlier in the week, by replacing 80% of the London Underground’s tube drivers with circuitry and ‘train attendants’, and then by introducing a system where commuters can pay for travel without buying a ticket, up to 1,500 jobs could be cut by 2017. The RMT general secretary, Bob Crow, has said that the plans ‘ignore reality in favour of austerity’. Whether you agree with him or not, it’s a future worth pondering.

What would driverless tube trains be like? It’s easy to see why people might be unnerved by the idea, though detractors seem to have forgotten that the Docklands Light Railway is already driverless. And having experienced driverless trains in Fukuoka, Japan (the Nanakuma Line is entirely circuit-driven), we’ve got to wonder whether trains that run smoothly, efficiently and bang on time are such a bad thing after all.

Can you imagine our beloved Tube driven by faceless computers? Does the idea thrill you, or would you prefer it if they just did away with all this newfangled train technology entirely and returned to the horse and trap?

Your comments below, if you please.

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