Recently in London's Infrastructure Category

ZDnet report that

London Underground stays in mobile dark ages

By Natasha Lomas

Posted on ZDNet News: Mar 16, 2009 8:54:54 AM

A plan to put mobile connectivity on the London Underground has stalled.

Back in March 2007, Transport for London (TfL) put out a tender for a six-month trial of mobile-phone technology on the Waterloo and City line. The aim of the trial -- originally scheduled for 2008 -- was to determine whether it would be technically and commercially viable for coverage to be extended across the entire Tube network.

Speaking at the time, Richard Parry, strategy and service development director of London Underground, said: "We recognize that there is now growing demand for mobile coverage to be extended to deep-level sections of the Tube."

However, two years on and no trial later the conclusion seems to be that mobiles on the Tube are not commercially viable. A TfL spokeswoman told ZDNet UK's sister site,, that three proposals were received by the October 2007 deadline but none were considered commercially "credible".

"London Underground tendered for a trial of mobile phones on the Waterloo and City line but the market has yet to provide us with a credible proposal for enabling mobile-phone use on the Tube," she said.

The high costs associated with the tenders appear to have seen the project shelved.

"While it is technically possible to deploy mobile-phone and data-wireless solutions on the deep-level Underground tunnels and stations, the unique nature and environment of the Tube mean that project costs would be prohibitively high at this time," the spokeswoman said.

TfL is still open to commercial approaches, according to the spokeswoman, but there are currently no active plans to trial or deploy cellular technology -- meaning the Underground mobile-network rollout has effectively hit the buffers.


Earlier this year, the Airwave emergency communication system went live on the Underground -- which means police and other emergency services personnel are now able to communicate wirelessly through 250 miles of Tube tunnels.

It sounds as if TfL have been too greedy in what they were planning to charge the Mobile Network Operators. Nobody could possibly have made any money, or even covered their costs,on the Waterloo and City Line pilot project - it is far too short a journey.

The prospects of "I will see you in a few minutes" or endless other annoying one sided conversations in public, is one which many people will not regret missing out on on the Tube.

The potential risks of mobile phone activated bombs on the deep Tube, are not to be dismissed lightly either.

Hopefully.any Deep Tube mobile phone location tracking surveillance infrastructure (which would have been provided for free, piggy backing on top of a commercial phone service) will also prove to be too expensive to justify financially. Such surveillance infrastructure obviously already exists for much of the above ground sections of London Underground rail lines.

It appears that security researchers at Radboud University in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, have extended their previous demonstration of the flaws in their own Phillips MiFare based travel cards, to the similar system used in the London Oyster Card.

See the reports by ZDnet: and the translation of a report about the researchers' evidence to the Netherlands Parliament regarding such transport card vulnerabilities:

They can reportedly use an Oyster Card, and then re-set the monetary balance, something which shows that the system is possibly vulnerable to fraud.

Transport for London claim that they would detect such a scam within 24 hours and so it would only be limited one day's free travel.

However, this assumes that the Dutch researchers, or any criminals exploiting the same vulnerabilities, are using are not spoofing or re-programming the Oyster card's serial number every day, as well as re-setting the monetary credit balance, in which case, this will not be picked up via a nightly accounting reconciliation subroutine on the central database.

If randomly chosen, or specifically targeted Oyster card serial numbers were to be re-programmed, then the Transport for London / TranSys consortium anti-fraud routines could be abused to create a Denial of Service attack on random innocent travellers or specific targets.

More worryingly, it appears that they can also cause a software malfunction in the Tube Gates, which are then jammed shut, after their Denial of Service attack presumably sends the wrong sort of code to the system.

At busy stations during the rush hour, this sort of Denial of Service attack could cause a lot of misery, and could potentially put lives at risk, especially at those stations which have Oyster card barriers very close to the up escalators, where there is a risk of people get trampled by a panicked crowd.

Transport for London must immediately ensure that Tube gates cannot be jammed shut by such a software malfunction. This is a safety issue, and , as such, must be given a far higher priority than any anti-fraud measures.

Transport for London need to actually publicly demonstrate that they have responded properly, to make such potential attacks impossible, and not just issue public relations spin that claim that there is no real problem.

The NO2ID Campaign organised Mayoral hustings meeting yesterday 8th April 2008 at the Friends Meeting House opposite Euston Station was interesting.


From left to right:

Jenny Jones (Green - deputising for Siân Berry), Lyndsey German (Left List / Respect), Boris Johnson (Conservative) NO2ID moderator Christina Zaba - brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat), Gerard Batten (UK Independence Party).

The arrogant authoritarian incumbent Labour candidate Ken Livingstone, refused to turn up to this hustings meeting. Neither did he send a deputy, nor did he or his spin doctors dare to send any Answers to the 4 Questions which NO2ID had sent to each of th invited Candidates beforehand.

His malign "database state" influence was represented by a Cardboard Cut Out Ken, to much amusement from the audience.


Boris Johnson said that this absence confirmed Ken's identity as a chicken.

The cross party NO2ID campaign has organised a mayoral election hustings meeting next week on Tuesday 8th Aprill 2008, which will give Londoners and the media a chance to question some (or perhaps all) of the 10 candidates on their attitudes and policies towards the massive "database state surveillance" of residents and visitors to London by the Central Government, public sector, private companies and even by private individuals.

Tue, 8th Apr 2008 — London Mayoral Hustings

NO2ID is holding hustings among the candidates for Mayor of London to discover their positions on


As well as housing Whitehall, London has many information and identity management systems of its own. How do candidates feel about the civil liberties and privacy implications of, among other things, the Oyster Card, congestion charging, telephone parking? Would they support or oppose national ID schemes as mayor? What is their attitude to the database state?

Invitations are being issued to every party with London representation at Westminster, in Strasbourg or in the GLA. Chaired by Christina Zaba.

Prospective candidates Gerard Batten (UKIP), Siân Berry (Green), Lindsey German (Respect / The Left List), Boris Johnson (Conservative), and Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat) have confirmed they will be attending.

Time: Doors open 6:30pm, Tuesday 8th April for a prompt 7:00pm start.

Place: Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ (map)

Press enquiries to:

Spy Blog has a few Questions for the Candidates regarding the surveillance and snooping infrastructure which the Mayor of London has a hand in, especially through Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police Service and the massive "security" budget for the London Olympic Games.

Ken Livingstone has published another fake public "consultation" regarding his "Low Emission Zone" plans which will cover the whole of London within the M25 starting in 2008.

Low Emission Zone Consultation

Frequently Asked Questions

This will cover all the 33 London Boroughs within the M25, but not the M25 itself, and will seek to limit particulate carbon air pollutants , which are mostly produced by pre-2001 vintage diesel engined lorries etc. through Yet Another Automatic Number Plate Recognition enforced system of fees (£100 to £200 a day) and fines (£ 1000 or more).

Unlike the London Congestion Charge, presumably this LEZ scheme will need to be run 24/7 and at weekends.

"It is proposed that the LEZ would be enforced using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras similar to those used for Congestion Charging. Fixed cameras would be supplemented by mobile patrol units fitted with ANPR cameras"

Why have they chosen the most intrusive and privacy unfriendly "control freak" way of enforcing this anti-pollution policy ?

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