London black cabs suspended over mystery fires

Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:30am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Hundreds of London black taxi cabs have been ordered off the streets after a series of mystery engine fires.

Transport for London (TfL), which runs the British capital's public transport system, ordered checks on 600 taxis last month after reports of fires in a particular model of cab, the TX4.

However it took immediate action after an eighth cab burst into flames on Wednesday, the fourth in London and 12th throughout the country this month.

"Following the latest reported fire last night, the Public Carriage Office (PCO) has suspended the licences of all LTI (London Taxis International) TX4s with a 56 licence plate with immediate effect," TfL said in a statement on Thursday.

"This is not a step we take lightly, but we cannot take any chances with the lives of London's taxi drivers or their passengers."

So far nobody has been injured and the cause of the blazes remains a mystery.

TfL said LTI, the cab manufacturers, had checked out around 100 affected taxis so far and those that had been examined and found to be safe were allowed to return to the road.

In all there are about 21,000 black cabs in London.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)