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.
Transport for London have insisted that both residents and businesses in south London will benefit from the extension of the Northern line, despite protests from dog walkers.
Michele Dix, Managing Director for Planning at Transport for London, said:
“Our proposed new Northern line extension for south London would create tube access for thousands of people and help support up to 25,000 jobs and 16,000 new homes in the Vauxhall and Nine Elms area."There will be no permanent loss of park space in Kennington Park
During construction the existing dog walking area will be temporarily relocated to another area of the park. “
"Local residents in Kennington will benefit from an improved park area and a new community building. "
Dog owners are due to meet this lunchtime to protest over the planned Northern line extension which they claim will ruin their space in Kennington Park used to walk their dogs. Others insist the plans will rejuvenate the area and bring in more business.
These incredible CCTV pictures show a Tube maintenance train which was being towed on the Northern Line in August 2010. It then broke free and rolled back down the line at speeds of up to 30mph. It eventually came to a halt on an incline near Warren Street after passing through seven stations.
The driver jumped free of the out of control vehicle as it hurtled through Archway station. A court heard how it came with 600 metres of a passenger train.
Severe delays on Northern Line between High Barnet and Finchley Central and service suspended between Finchley Central and Mill Hill East due to signal failure at Woodside Park, and at Finchley Central.