Cuts warning as Tube tragedy marked
Transport trade unionists marking the 25th anniversary of a devastating Tube station fire have demanded the scrapping of proposed staffing cuts.
Thirty-one people died when a fire on an escalator ripped through part of King's Cross Tube station in London on the evening of November 18 1987.
The fire was thought to have been caused by a dropped match and a subsequent public inquiry led to tighter safety standards on London Underground.
But the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union (RMT) claims that Mayor of London Boris Johnson's "threat" to cut station and platform staffing levels and introduce driverless trains would make the Underground unsafe again.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "We are here today first of all to show our sympathy and our condolences to the people who lost their lives 25 years ago. I worked for London Underground 25 years, I remember that night still vividly. It could have been me travelling home, my family, my friends, it could have been you, it could have been anyone that particular night."
Mr Crow said the recommendations made after the fire had made the Underground safer, as witnessed during terrorist attacks and emergencies on the Tube over the last quarter of a century.
"What we are seeing now is a number of people who want to reduce costs if they can," he said. "We can't allow for the accountants of Transport for London or the Government to try and reduce the staffing and make it unsafe for London Underground workers and the people that use the Tube."
More than 100 people were taken to hospital after the King's Cross fire. Smoking was immediately banned on all parts of the Tube after the fire and wooden escalators were replaced.
One of those killed was fireman Colin Townsley. He was posthumously awarded a certificate of commendation for his bravery, as were five other firemen who survived.
It was not until January 2004, that the 31st victim of the disaster was named as 72-year-old homeless Scotsman Alexander Fallon.
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