RMT demands investigation as Euston escalator fire exposes lethal consequences of axing tube station staff

TUBE UNION RMT today demanded a full external investigation into an escalator fire at Euston station four weeks ago where smoke detection systems failed and the station was only safely evacuated through the experience and vigilance of station-based staff. RMT have this morning referred the matter to the safety regulator the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).

The Euston fire, which has close parallels with the Kings Cross disaster in 1987 one stop up the line, was caused by mechanical friction in the closed chamber underneath an escalator igniting accumulated dust. The incident happened on the 6th July.

Fire detection systems failed and the smoke was spotted by staff members who activated the manual evacuation procedure and closed the station averting a potential disaster. RMT is pointing out that it’s those very staff who are among the 800 jobs that are currently under threat from Boris Johnson’s cuts and which are subject to a current ballot for industrial action.

London Fire Brigade have formally raised the failure of fire detection systems to activate in an internal incident report.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“Anyone who is in any doubt as to why we are balloting for action over the threat to safety-critical tube station jobs only needs to look at the incident report into the Euston escalator fire four weeks ago. Fire detection systems failed and it was only the vigilance and experience of station-based staff that averted what could have been a major disaster.

“Not only should Mayor Boris Johnson now call an immediate halt to the station job cuts programme but there should also be a full, external investigation into the fire detection systems on escalators across the tube network which failed at Euston on the 6th of July.

“RMT will tolerate no cover-ups when it comes to tube safety and we are wholly opposed to those responsible for these failures effectively investigating themselves. 23 years after the Kings Cross fire we should have learnt the lesson that there can be no compromise when it comes to safety across London Underground.”

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