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
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Crime news

Friday, May 29, 2015
[Photo Mel Hughes]

The words “No n******” were spray-painted on the outside wall of jazz bar in Herne Hill around 1am Monday May 25th.

Friday, May 29, 2015
[Photo Met Police]

An Ecuadorian studying at King’s College London sat next to the sleeping victim on the N13, put his hand down her jeans then led her off the bus and raped her in his Hampstead home.

Friday, May 29, 2015
Officers from Trident Gang Command are investigating

Police are hunting a gunman who shot a man near a children’s playground in Brent as part as part of a suspected gang attack on Wednesday.

Friday, May 29, 2015
Police say they urgently want to speak to this man [Images from British Transport Police]

A woman from Newham was beaten so badly aboard a busy train at Canning Town that her teeth were broken and her lip was cut.

Friday, May 29, 2015
The attack happened on Saturday on the canal towpath between Camden High Street and Kentish Town Road. Picture: GoogleStreetview

A homeless man has suffered a fractured skull and loss of hearing after being beaten by a man wielding a log in Camden.

Thursday, May 28, 2015
If you know this man, please contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40, or text 61016, quoting T/B6 of 27/05/2015

Police want to speak to a “man in orange trousers” after a Southall man was headbutted so viciously in a rush hour altercation at Ealing Broadway that he had to be taken to hospital.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Time to expand with the LeefiBRIDGE.

More iOS memory in a flash: Introducing Leef iBRIDGE.

Read more
The sell out 2014 event 32 Londoners, returns to the Coca-Cola London Eye!

The Coca-Cola London Eye is proud to announce that 32 Londoners will be returning this June, following last year’s sell out event. The event will feature 32 talks, in each of the London Eye’s 32 capsules on 32 extraordinary Londoners.

Read more
You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Read more