TFL chief says sorry for the ‘distress’ caused by ‘Free Palestine’ tube train incident

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TFL chief says sorry for the ‘distress’ caused by ‘Free Palestine’ tube train incident

Transport for London commissioner Andy Lord and deputy mayor for transport Seb Dance both expressed regret over incident on Central Line train at meeting with London Jewish Forum

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

TFL meeting with communal reps organised by London Jewish Forum
TFL meeting with communal reps organised by London Jewish Forum

Transport for London commissioner Andy Lord has personally apologised for the “distress” caused to many in the Jewish community after a Central Line tube train driver appeared to lead a “Free Palestine” chant over the tannoy system.

In a meeting facilitated by the London Jewish Forum, Lord, who was joined by the deputy mayor for transport Seb Dance said of last weekend’s incident:“I appreciate the distress this incident will have caused among the Jewish community, and I wanted to reassure you that we are doing all we can to ensure our transport network is a safe, welcoming environment for everyone.”

A driver has now been suspended pending a full investigation into last Saturday’s incident, which took place as thousands used the tube system to attend a pro-Palestine demo in central London.

In an honest and productive meeting, representatives from communal bodies including the Board of Deputies, Community Security Trust, Jewish Leadership Council, the Union of Jewish Students, the Pinter Trust and Pajes, all expressed their concerns and fears around safety issues in the capital, especially while the current crisis in the Middle East continues.

Joel Friedman, director of the Pinter Trust  emphasised “the importance of acknowledging and reassuring the ongoing security concerns for the very visible Strictly Orthodox community as they travel on London’s transport system.”

Pro-Palestine demo in central London

He added:” While most members of the community continue to go about their daily lives, there is a noticeable increase in hate crimes, leading to heightened stress and anxiety among community members.”

Guy Joory, of UJS, said:”Jewish students and the Jewish community more widely have experienced an enormous volume of antisemitism and hostility on public transport, and it is crucial that TFL takes action to prevent this, to ensure that Jewish people are able to feel safe and secure on public transport.”

The JLC’s Russell Langer stressed the need for TFL  to “ensure they had a clear plan in place in the expectation that the network will be used for demonstrations on a regular basis over the coming weeks.”

Deputy mayor for transport Dance had focused on the campaign for 80% usage of the TfL network by Londoners and how it would be a failure if the Jewish community did not feel safe on the network.

While TFL chief Lord also stressed his commitment to support Jewish members of TfL staff who are also meeting shortly with the commissioner.

The Board’s Daniel Sugarman later said:”The meeting with TfL was extremely positive; we felt that our concerns were understood and appreciated.”

London Jewish Forum co-chairs Andrew Gilbert and Adrian Cohen also noted how they looked forward to working with TfL “on its plans to be a safer network for our community”

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