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Most Googled: why isn’t London Underground automated?

Written by
Alice French

Every time there’s a tube strike people whinge about the fact we don’t have driverless tube trains – and it turns out they’ve been Googling it too. If you’ve seen ‘Back to the Future Part II’ it might seem pretty antiquated to have humans in control of anything. But, as London blogger and transport expert Ian Visits explains, although we’re moving in that direction you won’t be seeing driverless tubes any time soon.

‘Trains are increasingly automatic in how they stop and start,’ he says, ‘but a driver’s job is far more than that. Say they were removed from the front of the train, they’d still need to be there to control the doors and drive when the computers can’t.’ Like on the famously driverless DLR.

And then there’s the cost: ‘Even if we could get the money, should we spend it on making the tube driverless, or putting more seats and air conditioning in?’ I think all of us squashed, sweaty commuters know the answer to that.

And while we’re at it, why is the tube so hot?

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