Monday, November 26, 2007

Panic on the Underground

I pass this email on, which I received earlier.
This morning as we pulled into Temple on the District line the doors opened at about 9.05. All of sudden there came a screaming voice from the platform that “there’s a suspect package – get off the train”. Your heart sinks and adrenaline sets in. All you want to do is get out and so does everyone else! As people are running off the cramped trains and get up the stairs into the ticket hall you find a queue as people are needing to swipe their Oyster cards to get out! I shouted at the woman to open the gets. She couldn’t she replied as she was “waiting to find out what was going on”. I don’t think I have ever been so angry - and to be fair she also looked panicked.
Three questions I’m sure we all want to know:

1. What the hell do TfL staff “need to find out what is going on” for? People were desperate to get out.
2. We are all told to be vigilant but surely TfL need to up their game?
3. Why does TfL delay the evacuation of a station? Clearly there was a problem!


It seems clear that the Underground staff weren't clear what procedures they should be following. Patrick Mercer has long been a powerful critic of TfL and their reluctance to update their emergency procedures since 7/7. This is further evidence that he was right.

14 comments:

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Reminds me of the great Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York, 1911. Young girls were delayed in leaving the burning building because the security staff insisted on searching them, in accordance with the usual procedure. 'More than my job's worth ...'

John said...

All dutifully carried out in accordance with Mayor Ken's socialist instructions, no doubt.

javelin said...

9:05am that's after the bankers have got in and before the lawyers. So that leaves Government workers.

Carl Gardner said...

I could never understand why those ticket gates were installed at all - and they were introduced not long after the King's Cross fire 20 years ago. They're obviously going to cause deaths one day.

Ed said...

Every station has a gate which can easily be pushed open if there is an emergency.

I wish people wouldn't forget their shopping on the tube though, it's most irritating.

Phil said...

Since the transport network is a proven terrorist target, snide comments about government workers and jobworths only demonstrate a stunning disregard for people at the sharp end. The bus driver from 7/7 (not only a TfL worker but a union member as well, god forbid) showed more phlegm and courage than I doubt you armchair critics have ever had cause to display. One email without provenance, evidence or context is obviously all you need to wheel out outdated and unhelpful prejudices.

verity said...

Trumpeter -Similar to the case in Saudi around three years ago when there was a fire in a girl's school late at night and all the little girls came running downstairs in their nighties, screaming.

And the security guard forced them all back into the burning building because they weren't properly dressed to be out where they could be seen by men. Hell has a place for him.

Mostly Ordinary said...

I'm sure any changes in the operating practises of London Underground will require a strike ballot and Bob Crow talking rubbish on the television news. Patience dear boy.

Anyway Ken and 80 (yes 80!) of his mates have just got back from India, so I'm sure he's got lots of good ideas how to run a modern railway network .. oh wait ...

The Last Boy Scout said...

Sorry Iain, but for the first time in reading your blog I'm actually going to disagree aith one of your posts.

Procedures on the tube are tried and tested, and reguarly reviewed and updated. The staff at the stations and reguarly trained and retrained on security issues. They are also told to act professionally and not to panic. One this occasion one person runs off screaming, and the staff (without panicking) deal with the situation.

What people fail to comprehend is that tube staff have thousands of muppet customers leaving their bags behind.

If anything they should be commended for dealing with the situation professionally. Isn't that what we want, or does the originally the emailer want the staff to run away screaming like a baby everytime someone leaves their shopping behind.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought but: I'm a fare dodger who doesn't want to get caught at the gate. I linger on the platform until the train behind mine pulls in, and then start shouting along the lines that your witness suggests. In the rush to the gates, I get out without paying.

I would like to think that when a TfL staff person finds a suspicious package, they don't just start shouting panic/evacuate, but that they inform the station controller through their radio, who activates the recorded alarm through the tannoy, releases the gates, tells the line controller to tell drivers not to stop, etc., and generally shuts the station in a controlled manner.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure the bomb scare wasn't a piece of 'protest art' by Mark McGowan, the Arts Council's favourite corgi muncher?

Rachel said...

Ordinary LU staff demonstrated exceptional courage and resilience on the day of 7 July. Many of them were first responders, gave first aid, comforted shocked and injured passengers and witnessed terrible scenes. I am all for them having better training and support which they need to cope with huge numbers of people, some of whom are total idiots ( and the recognition and if necessary, counselling/support in the aftermath for their efforts).

And if people can't look after their bloody shopping and luggage then they really do deserve a full-blooded curse from the travelling public.

Anonymous said...

...and what if it were a bomb?

You have people queuing to get out of a station!

Anonymous said...

This happened in London - that place where the majority of people are not even British?

Sorry, lost interest!

Could we have a story about something happening in the UK that is still normal?