Safety Concerns As King's Cross Fire Is Marked

Transport trade unionists marking the 25th anniversary of a tube station fire have demanded the scrapping of proposed staffing cuts.

Dozens of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union (RMT) gathered outside King's Cross station in London to remember the 31 people who died there after a fire on an escalator on November 18, 1987.

Thought to have been caused by a dropped match, a subsequent public inquiry into the tragedy led to tighter safety standards on London Underground.

But the RMT claims Mayor of London Boris Johnson's "threat" to cut station and platform staffing levels and introduce driverless trains would make the tube network unsafe again.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow laid a wreath at the foot of a plaque inside the station dedicated to the victims' memory.

He said: "We are here today first of all to show our sympathy and our condolences to the people who lost their lives 25 years ago.

"I worked for London Underground 25 years ago, I remember that night still vividly.

"It could have been me travelling home, my family, my friends, it could have been you, it could have been anyone that particular night."

Mr Crow said the recommendations made after the fire had made the Underground safer, as witnessed during terrorist attacks and emergencies on the Tube since.

"What we are seeing now is a number of people who want to reduce costs if they can," he said.

 "We can't allow for the accountants of Transport for London or the Government to try and reduce the staffing and make it unsafe for London Underground workers and the people that use the Tube."

More than 100 people were taken to hospital after the King's Cross fire.

Among those killed was fireman Colin Townsley who was posthumously awarded a certificate of commendation for his bravery, as were five other firemen who survived.

Smoking was immediately banned on all parts of the Underground after the fire and wooden escalators were replaced.