FOI request detail

London Underground Announcements

Request ID: FOI-2233-2021
Date published: 04 February 2021

You asked

Dear Transport for London, Please could I have any of the onboard announcements for the C stock? Anything would be good,

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-2233-2021

Thank you for your request of 3rd February 2021 asking for copies of London Underground announcements.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. 

I can confirm that we hold the information you require. However, we are refusing your request under section 14(1) of the FOI Act. We consider that providing the requested information would place an unreasonable burden on us at this time. As you will be aware, it is essential for London, and in particular for all critical workers, that we continue to provide a safe transport network that enables them to make the journeys they need to and our staff are working hard to support them and protect all Londoners. We consider that answering this request would represent a disproportionate effort and would require the redirection of limited specialist resources and the attention of staff away from their core functions who could be supporting other essential activity.

We wish to clarify that whilst we consider that your request falls under section 14(1), this does not reflect a conclusion that it has been your intention to place an undue burden on our resources. On the application of the exemption we have been steered by the ICO guidance on its use that that can be found on its website here:

To be clear, it is the current context in which the request has been made that is central to our decision to apply the exemption. In particular, we consider the following elements of s14 apply in this instance:

  • The request is likely to cause a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress in the current circumstances
  • Lacks sufficient purpose or value in the current circumstances
  • Overly burdensome in the current circumstances

We have responded to several hundred requests for audio recordings over many years. However, due to alternative working arrangements aligned with the Government’s measures to tackle the coronavirus, the FOI Case Management Team do not currently have access to the necessary hardware required to create CDs of audio announcements in response to FOI requests and so we are unable to process these requests remotely. Processing your request would require individuals to attend office premises, contrary to current government advice, in order to access the relevant equipment to compile the information requested and issue the response. We consider this to be a disproportionate burden on our staff and we can not justify the use of our resources in this way at present for a request that we do not consider to carry any wider public interest.

Note that even when we have access to the necessary hardware to create recordings we are only able to do so for the Northern, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines. For other lines the information is exempt from disclosure under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act - the exemption relating to prejudice of commercial interests. The contract with the company that provides the announcements specifies that the recordings are solely to be used for the purpose for which they were created and for broadcast on the London Underground network only. If TfL were to disclose these recordings in response to an FOI request, it would constitute an actionable breach of contract and would be likely to result in a valid legal claim against London Underground or the license to use the recordings being withdrawn, which would impose additional, unnecessary, costs on both parties.

If you are considering submitting a further FOI request please think carefully about whether the request is essential at this current time, as answering FOI requests will require the use of limited resources and the attention of staff who could be supporting other essential activity. Where requests are made, please note that our response time may be impacted by the current situation.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely,

David Wells

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

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