A Tube train with a suspect package on board passed through four stations because staff cuts meant there was no-one available to evacuate and search the carriages, according to a leaked memo.
A London Underground controller warned in an email that “Russian roulette” was starting to be played with people’s lives, saying it was a “very serious issue”.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) called for job cuts to be reversed immediately and accused Transport for London (TfL) and London Mayor Boris Johnson of “lies and complacency”.
But LU chief operating officer Howard Collins rejected the claims as “absurd”.
“It is completely wrong to claim that London Underground’s security has been put at risk by any staffing changes,” he said.
The leaked internal memo refers to a train on the Jubilee Line during the evening rush-hour last Monday, February 7. It said it travelled through stations including Canary Wharf and Canada Water in London’s Docklands before the suspect package was checked.
The controller said he was alerted to the possibility of an unattended bag in the last carriage of an eastbound train by LU’s line information service.
Referring to the person who contacted him, he wrote: “He duly contacted stations ahead for staff to check this out, only to be told that, due to staff shortages, there was no-one available to investigate this potentially catastrophic safety issue.”
He added: “This is a very serious issue and I think we are beginning to play ‘Russian roulette’ with people’s lives if this sort of failure in a ‘duty of care’ is allowed to persist.”
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “TfL have had the nerve to accuse RMT of scaremongering over the safety impact of their cuts and yet here we have one of their own senior managers warning that we are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives because there aren’t enough staff left to carry out basic emergency procedures.”