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Credit: PRICEY1983AA/TWITTER & ALESSANDRO/FLICKR
The improvised bomb found on a Parsons green tube train & a busy tube station. Credit: PRICEY1983AA/TWITTER & ALESSANDRO/FLICKR

London’s transport system has just been rocked by another terror attack, but this time, thankfully, there were no fatalities. 

The threat level has only just been moved down from critical to severe, but with increased tensions in the international community and Western countries engaged in imperialistic proxy-power struggles, many feel it is just a matter of time before there is another one.

Unsung Heroes

So when it happens, who do we count on to keep us safe? Police, ambulance and fire services are always quick to get to a disaster, as we have seen too many times over the past few years.

Their heroic acts have saved lives and are well documented. But how about our unsung heroes? Our transport workers.

Following the Parson’s Green attack the BBC quoted Luke O’Connor, a commuter:

Mr O’Connor praised Tube staff, who he said were “superb” in getting people off safely and as quickly as possible.

This isn’t the first time we hear of our transport workers coming to the rescue. On the day of the 7/7 attacks, tube workers searched for survivors down tunnels billowing with black smoke. Train drivers dragged the injured from wreckage.

Credit: Support the Brum Bin Strike
A motorcycle crashed into the back of a refuse loading wagon, workers came to their aid. Credit: Support the Brum Bin Strike/Facebook

Not terror related, but recently, the very Grade 3 Birmingham bin workers who are facing the sack were on scene to aid a motorcycle rider who had crashed into the back of one of their trucks. Without their knowledge and expertise, it could have been far worse.

Last year, London Underground workers found a suspicious device on one of their trains, the offender was later found and arrested. Without these workers doing their checks, more names could have been added to the growing list of fatalities and casualties.

Cheapest Not Safest

So why are Londoners all too familiar with shuttered or empty ticket offices? Why are Southern Rail bosses threatening conductors livelihoods and Birmingham councillors battling with bin workers? Why do the media savage unions and striking workers when they say that the automation of our services puts the public at risk?

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has previously said on the issue of automated and driverless trains:

“It’s safe. It’s been assessed by the independent safety inspectors so there’s no safety issue.”

But, as pointed out on a blog post on strongerunions.org, a report by the Rail Safety Standards Board says:

“…there may be changes to the risk profile, in terms of the likelihood of events occurring, or the severity of their consequences”.

Unfortunately the report is also riddled with talk of cost effectiveness, but the point is clear. If things happen more often and the results are worse, automation might be the cheaper option, but it is not the safer option.

At a time when violent crime and sex attacks are on the rise, and a terror attack is an increasingly sobering possibility, trained professionals checking train carriages and guiding the public to safety are a necessity.

Widespread job losses across the country might suggest otherwise, but the bosses and champions of big capital are as blind to our safety as they are with their faith in austerity.

We need our transport workers — they are seldom recognised for being on the front lines and keeping us safe.

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