Boris Johnson has said driverless trains should be a condition of a future bailout of Transport for London.
The Government gave TfL a £1.6 billion package to continue running services after a collapse in revenue in May due to the coronavirus lockdown, but that funding will run out in September.
On a visit to a site in Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire, where Siemens will open a rail manufacturing facility in 2022, the Prime Minister said:
Finn Brennan, organiser on London Underground for train drivers’ union Aslef accused the Prime Minister of "talking nonsense".
During his time as Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, Mr Johnson was involved in a series of bitter disputes with trade unions in relation to London Underground services.
In 2011, Mr Johnson claimed that “virtually anybody” could drive a Tube train as he gave his support for more automation, adding:
There are currently no driverless trains on the Tube network
Some trains are operated in semi-automatic mode, which means drivers still have to operate doors but they are not responsible for acceleration or braking unless problems occur
TfL’s Docklands Light Railway does not have drivers in cabs but uses onboard attendants who control the doors.