Frustrated passengers ‘risked electrocution’ after forcing train doors open
Power has been turned off while staff ensure the tracks are clear, prompting severe delays.
Passengers frustrated by delays have jumped from trains and walked down tracks near one south London station.
Southeastern Rail said it was dealing with a “serious trespass incident” after the doors on a train were forced open while it was stopped outside Lewisham station on Friday evening.
Power has been turned off while staff ensure the tracks are clear prompting severe delays, the company said.
#LEWISHAM: We can't tell you when you'll be moving at the moment. Process is effectively this; when people stop getting off trains (unless controlled by emerg. services) and we're clear no-one else is on track, the power will go back on. Once this happens - trains will move.— Southeastern (@Se_Railway) March 2, 2018
British Transport Police, Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade are in attendance.
A Southeastern spokesman said: “There are currently severe delays to trains in the Lewisham area following a serious trespass incident.
“Several passengers have forced open the doors on a train and disembarked while it was stopped outside of the station.
“We’ve had to turn the power off for safety reasons, and Southeastern staff are currently working closely with Network Rail and the Police to clear the trespassers from the tracks so that we can get trains moving again.
“We completely understand that passengers on delayed and busy trains may be frustrated, but they simply must stay on the train for their own safety.
“These trespassers risk being electrocuted by the ‘third’ rail or hit by other trains. They’re also causing significant further delay for other passengers that our staff are working hard to get home.”
We have all available officers & our emergency response teams deployed to help evacuate passengers on the trapped trains in the #Lewisham & surrounding areas. @metpoliceuk & @LondonFire are also in attendance.— British Transport Police (@BTP) March 2, 2018
British Transport Police said in a tweet that “all available officers” had been deployed to evacuate passengers trapped on trains in the area.
Mick Cash, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said: “RMT members are out there working in appalling conditions on our railways tonight and they deserve nothing but total respect and support.
“Tonight’s incidents have once again raised some serious issues about the capacity of Britain’s railways to cope with added pressures from adverse weather.
“There must be a full and transparent investigation into the serious issues that have been raised on on transport services over the past week. Warm words from Chris Grayling just won’t cut it.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “At 5.35pm this evening, a train came to a stand near Lewisham Station due to ice on the conductor rail.
“Our team were on site manually de-icing the rail when at 6.45pm passengers began climbing off the train and onto the tracks.
“Safety is our primary concern and the conductor rail in the south east carries 750 volts of electricity, which is more than enough to kill.
“In the event of trespassers on the railway we have to turn the power off for their safety.
“It is incredibly irresponsible and dangerous to trespass on the railway and unfortunately this has meant we have to delay many other passengers who recognise the danger and stay on their trains.
“We worked closely with the emergency services to get passengers back on trains and as of 21.40 we were able to turn the power back on and trains are now able to move again in the area.
“However, passengers may experience residual delays during what has already been a testing day because of the adverse weather conditions for the whole transport network.”
Southeastern said it had cleared trespassers from the tracks and restored power by 10.15pm, allowing trains to move again.