Nigel Holness, London Underground’s Operation Director, said:
“It is totally irresponsible of the RMT leadership to attempt to scaremonger in this way.
There was no risk to staff or customers, the signaller ordered the train to come to a halt as it was departing Finchley Central station and when it was around 1 kilometre away from Mill Hill East, and well clear of the single track section of the Mill Hill East branch.
However the signalling would have also prevented it travelling onto the single track.
We are of course looking closely at the incident to ensure that our processes are working and being followed correctly, but we have an excellent safety record and we would never compromise the safety of our staff and customers.”
Labour London Assembly Transport spokeswoman Val Shawcross said:
“We need anurgent investigation into how such a serious breach of safety could ever happenon the Underground. We need to understand what went wrong to stop it happeningagain.
It looks like the quick actions of a train driver averted disaster and they should be commended for their response.
TfL need to conduct an immediate investigation to make sure the line is safe, and we need a thorough investigation by the independent Rail Accident investigation Branch to identify any longer term problems.
The Mayor and Transport for London need to come clean about how this could possibly happen and what steps they will take in the future.
With a 12.5% cut to TfL’s budget from the government coming soon we need to know that the Tube can be operated safely and not put passengers in harm’s way.”
The RMT union claimed the incident took place on Monday evening when a train pulling out of Finchley Central was asked to put on the emergency brake shortly before seeing a train approaching on the single track lane from Mill Hill East station.
The union said in a statement:
"Tube union RMT demanded urgent answers from London Underground chiefs today over massive breaches of safety that enabled two trains to end up narrowly avoiding a head on collision on a section of the Northern Line on Monday evening.
In the shocking incident on Monday, which reinforces RMT’s claims that a cuts and targets led culture on London Underground is compromising safety and which also exposes the lethal nonsense of driverless operation...
...a train out of Finchley Central was given a target speed to proceed out of the station and after approximately 2 train lengths was asked to apply an emergency brake.
Upon doing this the train operator became aware of a train approaching from Mill Hill which is a single track line.
The driver was forced to take emergency action and to reverse and move back to Finchley Central, avoiding a potential head on collision with the train heading south on the same section of track.
Both trains were in service and carrying passengers and it was only due to the swift action of the driver that a potentially fatal head on collision was avoided.