Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Minister Acts on Rail Station Chaos; ?Network Rail Chiefs Ordered to End London Bridge Crush within daysStaff to Get More iPads to Pass on Commuter News

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Minister Acts on Rail Station Chaos; ?Network Rail Chiefs Ordered to End London Bridge Crush within daysStaff to Get More iPads to Pass on Commuter News

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil and Dick Murray

RAIL chiefs are to rush in plans within days to avoid further chaos at one of London's busiest stations after being "read the riot act" by the Government.

Rail minister Claire Perry held a crisis meeting with Network Rail and train companies yesterday to address "dangerous" overcrowding and "barrier rage" at London Bridge station, which has been hit repeatedly by service delays.

Union bosses also warned that station staff have suffered physical and verbal abuse from passengers, with hot coffee thrown over some.

Staff have also been spat at, threatened and sworn at by angry and frustrated commuters.

RMT leader Mick Cash today lodged a formal written complaint with Network Rail and the three train companies using the station -- Southeastern, Southern and Thameslink -- demanding major changes and staffing improvements to control the crowds.

"All it would take in the crush we have seen last week and yesterday is for one person to lose their footing and the threat to life and limb is only too obvious," he said.

Ministers want the new contingency plans to be ready by Friday, to deal with incidents such as trains breaking down, signal failures and intruders on the line.

They are expected to include moves to bring in more "travel champion" staff, similar to those used during the London Olympics, to warn commuters of problems at the station and offer them advice, including on alternative Continued on Page 2 Continued from Page 1 routes, before they reach the concourse. One senior management "commander" is expected to take charge during times of disruption and get a more co-ordinated response from Network Rail and train companies. There are also expected to be more information screens and much more "immediate, dynamic use of them".

Staff are set to be given more iPads with better wifi coverage to ensure they have good information to pass on to passengers, and operational procedures will be improved.

London Bridge, which handles 54 million passengers a year, has experienced overcrowding problems since work began in December to boost capacity by two-thirds, creating a street-level concourse and extending platforms. …

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