Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tube Bosses Cannot Be Certain of Central Line Safety, Warns Inquiry

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tube Bosses Cannot Be Certain of Central Line Safety, Warns Inquiry

Article excerpt


LONDON Underground cannot guarantee the safety of passengers using the Central line, a report into the Chancery Lane derailment concludes.

An inquiry by the London Assembly found the crash on 25 January was an "accident waiting to happen" because of failings by senior management.

LU's "guarantee" that the line, used by 670,000 a day, is safe, is "undermined by its continuing failure to explain why motors are detaching", the report says.

LU still does not know why half-ton motors broke free from the undercarriage, derailing the last four cars.

John Biggs, chairman of the Assembly inquiry panel, said: "We find it difficult to reconcile this inability to identify the cause of the problem with LU's statement that they are absolutely confident it is safe to run these trains."

And although LU said at the time that 32 passengers were injured, after interviewing passengers and staff the Assembly panel concluded "the official injury figure is an underestimate".

The report also revealed how fleeing travellers struggled to find the way out because thick dust obscured emergency exit signs; evacuation was "slowed" because the down escalator was not reversed; and passengers would have been trapped if the derailed train had blocked the only exit fromthe platform.

LU returned the Central line to full service only a week ago saying all 85 trains now had redesigned motor-holding bolts and safety brackets. But it admitted trains would be subject to a strict speed limit. Trains may also have to be withdrawn a few at a time at a later date for further modification.

The report condemns LU managers for failing to deal with loose motors when they were first noticed at Hainault in October 2001, and at Loughton last September. After the Loughton incident managers decided that if there were reports of a smell, noise or smoke - indicating motor problems - the train was to be taken out of service. But this instruction was "not communicated to LU operation staff". …

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