A row over London Underground drivers' water breaks is threatening to cause Tube delays this summer

 
Rebecca Smith
Beating the heat is not so easy underground
Beating the heat is not so easy underground (Source: Getty)

Hot weather in the capital is not the commuter’s best friend. Case in point: the rush hour troubles for those at Waterloo and Paddington this week.

And the high temperatures are also felt by drivers. But train drivers’ union Aslef has warned of additional delays for passengers this summer, claiming that the removal of water facilities for staff means drivers will be more likely to take unscheduled breaks.

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The union said Transport for London (TfL) has changed the contractor which supplies water coolers to its head office buildings and front line locations, such as train crew mess rooms.

It has complained that drivers and frontline staff are having water coolers removed from tea points and locations where drivers change ends to reverse their trains.

“When your working day is spent in a metal box deep underground, cool clean drinking water isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Finn Brennan, Aslef’s organiser on London Underground.

“TfL rightly reminds passengers to carry water with them in hot weather, but at the same time they are taking away the facilities where drivers can get water from during their duties.”

The inevitable result will be that drivers will be forced to take additional unscheduled breaks, to avoid the serious dangers of dehydration. This will mean trains stuck in platforms and additional delays for passengers right across the Underground network.

However, TfL said all of its staff had access to water when needed.

A TfL spokesperson said:

We fully appreciate the need for our staff to have access to clean drinking water. That’s why, despite changes to our water cooler contract, every single member of our staff has access to clean water whenever they need it be it from a water cooler or tap as you’d have at home.

If our staff have any concerns, we will of course respond to those taking any appropriate action.

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