Runaway Tube train could have caused ‘terrible tragedy’

17:25 28 February 2013

File picture: PA

File picture: PA

PA Wire/Press Association Images

London Underground and two associated firms have been fined after a Tube train hurtled through seven stations on the Northern Line before it was stopped.

The incident, which took place on August 13 2010, started when the 39-tonne maintenance wagon rolled downhill at 30mph without brakes from Highgate and into central London.

A train in front of it was told to keep going and not stop, while its passengers were told to run to the front carriages, the Old Bailey heard.

London Underground, Tube Lines Ltd and Schweerbau GMBH pleaded guilty to endangering passengers and staff under Health and Safety law.

They were each fined £100,000.

Judge Richard Hone said: “There was the potential of terrible tragedy.”

He said the runaway train was out of control for four miles during 16 minutes.

“To those involved it must have seemed an extremely frightening eternity,” he added.

The court was told that a fault had now been remedied and the incident was extremely unlikely to occur again.

Prosecutor Jonathan Ashley-Norman told the court that the rail grinding unit was being towed when it broke away during the early morning.

It started rolling downhill without brakes from Highgate and into central London in August, 2010.

“It could have led to tragedy but thanks to the immediate actions of LU staff, no one was hurt,” said Mr Ashley-Norman.

Control staff watched helplessly as they saw the flashing lights of both vehicles turn into one as the grinder got within 600 metres of the train.

Mr Ashley-Norman said attempts were made to slow the runaway train down using points at Camden Town and Mornington Crescent, and the trains were diverted onto different lines.

It eventually stopped at Warren Street when it reached an upward incline.

“In the event, and fortunately, no one was harmed,” added Mr Ashley-Norman.

Keith Morton, QC, for the Tube companies, said: “London Underground is one of the safest railways in the world - if not the safest.”

Speaking afterwards, London Underground director Mike Strzelecki said: “This was clearly a serious incident and LU and Tube Lines acted quickly to investigate its causes and take action to ensure that the risk of such a rare incident recurring was minimised.

“Following the incident LU immediately put in place procedures to remove the engineering train and tow-bar from use on the railway.

“Since then LU and Tube Lines have put in place even tighter approvals and controls for the design and use of all such equipment.””

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
2 3 4 5 6

Latest Crime news

Thursday, October 8, 2015
Roadside tributes to cyclists are not a rare sight in the capital (Photo: Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

A lorry driver has been summonsed to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court accused of causing death by careless driving.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
CCTV footage of the raid at Windsor Bishop jewellers in Norwich carried out by Islington smash and grab raiders Alfredo Rojasvagras, Bradley McMillan,  Mark Moloney and Dillon Zambon with two other associates. Picture: PRESS ASSOCIATION

Islington’s smash and grab shame was thrown back into the spotlight this week, after three men – and one boy – from the borough were jailed for a combined 20 years for a jewellery shop robbery.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
A man punched a teenager in the face and verbally abused him on a Metropolitan Line train (Picture: PA Images)

A 19-year-old was punched in the face by a man - who was also verbally abusing him - on a Metropolitan Line tube train as it pulled in to Harrow on the Hill station, according to British Transport Police (BTP).

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Dragos Moisica, 27, a Romanian national of High Street, Edgware, raped a girl on her 12th birthday at a hotel in Kenton (Picture: Metropolitan Police)

This man raped a vulnerable girl on her twelfth birthday. He groomed his child victim - he gave her presents, professed his love and finally lured her to a north London hotel for sex.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Winston Churchill statue in Woodford Green was vandalised with paint splashed over it

Vandals have poured orange and pink paint over Winston Churchill’s statue in Woodford Green.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Anyone with information about this man is asked to contact police on 101 quoting image 191154 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Police have released a video of a chilling knifepoint robbery in Clerkenwell Close in hopes of identifying a man they want to speak to.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Line-Up Events


You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

Read more
You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Read more

Latest Tech News