Persistent rumours of problems with black cabs catching fire have ignited in London this week.
Manufacturer London Taxis International (LTI) informed the Public Carriage Office, which regulates taxis in London, of a number of engine fires in TX4 taxis. Following an eigth fire in just three months, 500 London TX4s of 56 plate registration have been forced off the road, pending further investigation and a safety check of the engine compartment and components.
Vehicles in Edinburgh are also now being recalled by the licensing authority. However the situation in the rest of the UK remains unclear, meaning that cabbies and passengers in are still travelling in these vehicles.
The PCO commented: “While there have been no injuries to date, measures are being put in place to minimise the risk to both passengers and drivers.
“There is a need to inspect all ‘56’ registered TX4 taxis and LTI will be contacting owners to arrange these checks.”
Based upon LTI’s advice, the PCO requires all 56 plate cabs to complete the check and be signed off by LTI, and for this to be noted by the PCO. Early production vehicles must be checked by today [Friday 19 September] and the rest of the ‘56’ registrations by Friday 26 September.
A notice issued by the PCO states: “Any vehicle not signed off by LTI may have its license suspended by the Licensing Authority and will therefore be unfit for passenger service.
“LTI further advises all taxi drivers that, in the event of smoke originating in the engine compartment of any cab, the driver stops the cab; removes him/herself and any passengers from the cab; does not lift the bonnet; and calls the fire brigade.”
The story has hit the headlines in the capital, including ITV’s London Tonight TV news. The BBC is reporting on Justin Sneddon, whose cab “burst into flames” in Leicester Square. Justin told the BBC that “It all happened in two or three minutes, the car was up in six or seven meter high flames and it was quite an intense fire.”
“It even took a chunk out of the pavement it was so intense” [See link http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7619583.stm]
There have been previous reports of TX4s catching fire, including Edinburgh driver Alastair Lothian, whose vehicle became an insurance write-off last year.
Despite the crisis measures in London, TX4 drivers in other cities, including [X] report that they have not yet been informed by LTI. In Edinburgh, the Cab Office has intervened and required all 56 and 07 plate TX4 owners to contact them urgently.
The cause of the fires and whether the fault may occur in later vehicles appears to remain unknown. An LTI statement says that they “remain committed to discover the cause of this problem and provide a solution as quickly as possible”.