HL Deb 24 July 1951 vol 172 cc1146-7

2.50 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether, in view of the danger to human life from trains travelling between Westminster and the City with open dors, they are yet able to indicate when the completion of a programme of automatic doors may be expected.]


My Lords, at the present time, no trains fitted with hand-worked sliding doors are scheduled to run on week-days (Mondays to Saturdays inclusive) between Westminster and the City. On occasions, however, when there is a temporary shortage of rolling stock, or exceptional congestion, it is necessary to work a few such trains. On Sundays it is usual to run two trains of this type on the Circle Line, to give train crews experience with them. As new rolling stock is delivered, with air-worked doors controlled by the guard, the necessity for running any trains fitted with hand-worked doors on the District main line, including the Westminster-City section, will become progressively less. It is hoped that it will cease early in 1952.


My Lords, while I thank the noble Lord for his reply, it is hard to understand why there should be such a delay in carrying out this programme. After all, the cost, in man-hours or material involved in correcting this defect, which is a danger to human life, in comparison with the expenditure involved in the progressive security precautions taken week by week in mills throughout the country, is very small. Perhaps the noble Lord can explain this delay. I last asked a Question on this subject on May 5, 1948, three years and some months ago. I was then assured that these arrangements were actively in hand, and the noble Lord who replied on behalf of the Government said: I will see that the noble Lord's question is brought to the notice of the Commission. I hope that it is not to be understood that we shall continue for another three and a half years with this danger to human life.


The noble Lord is, of course, aware of the great claims upon the productive capacity of the country. That is a factor which must be taken into consideration. This problem is progressively being tackled, and, as I say, I hope that with the coming of new rolling stock—and I can assure the noble Lord that new stock is from time to time being produced—we shall have eliminated the whole problem by 1952. The danger to life which the noble Lord mentions in his original Question is, of course, not a great factor. The record of accidents in these last four years is very small—a total of four, all due to carelessness and thoughtlessness by people trying to board or alight from trains while they were in motion. I can assure the noble Lord that all the considerations which he has mentioned have been taken into account, and that we are progressing as quickly as the present position allows.


But not speedily enough.