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'Fear spread' among passengers after smoke on Tube train

  • 7-30-2014

Panic spread among Tube passengers as people tried to escape a locked train when smoke and the smell of burning was detected, an accident report found.

The Central line train was stopped in Holland Park station during the Notting Hill carnival last year after passengers activated emergency alarms.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said the driver lacked experience of dealing with emergencies.

London Underground said it will remind drivers to keep passengers informed.

No-one was hurt during the incident which took place on 25 August and passengers were at no risk from a fire as the smoke was coming from an electrical fault, investigators said.

Screaming and commotion

But passengers thought there was a fire on the train and despite it coming to a halt at Holland Park station, the doors remained closed.

"The investigation found that rising fear spread through the train when passengers perceived little or no response from the train operator to the activation of the passenger emergency alarms.

"The train side-doors remained locked and they were unable to open them, and they could not see any staff on the platform to deal with the situation", the RAIB said.

Screams and commotion led 13 passengers, including two children, to climb through the gaps between carriages to reach the platform.

People waiting on the platform and those on the train also failed to open the doors and the driver only activated the doors four minutes after the alarms sounded.

The seriousness of the event was "not immediately recognised by the senior staff involved", adding that the driver had "a lack of training and experience to deal with incidents involving the activation of multiple passenger emergency alarms".

The RAIB said that despite no-one being hurt, "a number of passengers, including children, who had been on the train and on the platform reported being extremely distressed and in fear for their safety".

London Underground's Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines operations director Peter McNaught said it will "act upon all the recommendations", including "reviewing how we deploy our staff during the carnival and reminding drivers of the need to keep passengers fully informed during incidents."

"Our investigation found that a motor defect caused smoke and dust to be released from the train, but that there was no fire and no risk or injury to customers.

"Our staff responded immediately and were on the platform within three minutes."

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2014 BBC

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