My query to the Mayor's Office was passed to London Underground and this is the reply I received:
Dear Ms Dunne
Thank you for writing to the Mayor recently with your concerns about the Tube.
Your e-mail has been logged at his office and passed to me to answer from London Underground's point of view.
I am sorry for the delay getting back to you. I'm sure you'll understand that we have a large volume of correspondence to deal with at the moment.
I'll answer your questions in the order and form you asked them.
1. Yes, all Tube trains have radio contact with their line control.
2. I'm sorry, but I find this question a little strange because it seems to assume that the drivers did not alert the control centre. I'm not sure what information you base this assumption on, but it isn't accurate. Our network control had been alerted to all the incidents within minutes of them happening. Your question also seems to assume that the drivers would have known instantly that the incidents were bombs, but this also isn't the case. They reported what they knew, often the symptoms rather than the cause (so to speak), which itself may not have beenimmediately clear.
3. Mercifully, no member of our staff was injured in any of the explosions. I understand that there was damage to the cab of at least one train where the windows were shattered.
4. Again, I'm afraid it's not accurate to say that the information given about a power surge was a 'story'. When the explosions happened, obviously they broke the track circuit. On the computer systems at network control, such a big break would look the same as a power surge. It's worth pointing out that we have never been the victim of a terrorist attack of this kind before, but on 28 August 2003 a power surge knocked out about half of the network. Such a surge can beaccompanied by explosions. In other words, all the evidence we had at the time (including the information from the drivers) and our experience pointed to a power surge, so that's what we said it was. This information was given in good faith.
I am dismayed by reports in certain sections of the media that the term power surge was used as some kind of cover story until we were ready to reveal the truth. Indeed, I have to say that I take issue with calling it a 'story', as this seems to imply that we deliberately misled people. This is nonsense. As soon as we had evidence of what had actually happened, we made that information public.
5. Most trains now have CCTV and it is being added to older trains as they are refurbished and fitted on new trains as standard. You may have seen the images from train CCTV of the 21 July Oval suspect.
6. I understand your point about the time helping eye witnesses. It is now clear that all three explosions were between 8.50 and 8.51am. Of course we have the track data to know exactly when each train left each station, but I think that any eye witnesses should concentrate on the run up to the key time of 8.50am.
I hope that I have answered your questions, clarified the situation and set your mind at rest.
Please contact us again if you need any help from London Underground in the future.
Customer Service Advisor
Customer Service Centre
0845 330 9880
Well thank you Mr Wolstenholme, but that left me more confused than when I started asking these questions. The control centre knew instantly via the drivers that these incidents had occurred. Yet Transport For London's press release on their own web site states:
14:25 Transport for London Update
Latest information confirms that there were four incidents on London's transport network this morning, three on London Underground and one on London Buses. At 09:46, the London Underground was suspended and all stations commenced evacuation following incidents at:
Aldgate station heading towards Liverpool Street station on the Hammersmith & City line;
Russell Square station heading towards Kings Cross station on the Piccadilly line;
Edgware Road station heading towards Paddington station on the Hammersmith & City line.
So on 7th July 2005 at 14.25 pm the trains were not only all travelling towards Kings Cross but were also on the Hammersmith & City Line not as we are later told, the Circle line. The times were also published on many sites over the following days as:
7/7 Attack on London Underground:
There were three explosions on London Underground today, 7th July 2005, believed to be the work of Islamic terrorists, although this is not confirmed.
The first took place on a train between Aldgate East and Liverpool Street at 08:51, the second between Kings Cross and Russell Square on the Piccadil0ly Line at 08:56 and the third at Edgware Road at 09:17. Deaths are currently repoorted to be 7 at Liverpool Street, 21 at Kings Cross and 7 at Edgware Road. We should also not forget there are two more deaths reported as a result of a fourth explosion on a Route 30 Bus at Woburn Place near Russell Square. [Tubeprune]
Terrorist Attacks on the Capital Published: 08/07/05
The following details have been provided by the Metropolitan Police as an outline of events on Thursday 7 July 2005. At 08.15 on 7 July there was an explosion in a train carriage 100 yards from Liverpool Street Sation. At 08.56 there was another incident as Kings Cross/ Russell Square. Both stations were used to bring out casualties. At Kings Cross there were 7 confirmed fatalities, 10 people seriously injured and 100 walking wounded. At 09.17 there was an explosion on a train coming into Edgeware Road underground station approximately 100 yards into the tunnel. Five fatalities were confirmed. [GOS News Archive]
Now I can understand that chaos may well reign during these kinds of events and communications can break down. Yet there was an exercise carried out as recently as April 2005 entitled Exercise Atlantic Blue details of which are on the Home Office website. How many people took part in the exercise? What organisations did they represent?
Around 2500 people were involved in the planning and delivery of Exercise Atlantic Blue. These included representatives from the Home Office and other Government Departments, the Metropolitan Police Service and a wide variety of London agencies including emergency services, utilities and local government. [Home Office]
Anti-terror drill revealed soft targets in London
Mark Townsend and Gaby Hinsliff
Sunday July 10, 2005
A massive anti-terror exercise carried out last April to find out how safe London's transport systems were from attack raised concern over the vulnerability of passengers, The Observer can reveal. [Observer]
For anyone who wonders why I continually bang on about what times the trains left Kings Cross that morning let me just say: given all of the above why wouldn't I? And why can I not find the answer?