Runaway train causes chaos on London Underground

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Monday, August 16, 2010

A London Underground engineering train ran away and travelled four miles on the Underground's Northern Line early on Friday morning, resulting in part of the Northern Line, which carries 500,000 passengers daily, being closed for much of the day. The runaway train apparently had an engineering defect.

The London Underground, also known as the Tube, reported that the engineering train had been working on the High Barnet branch of the Northern Line when it broke down at 5.25 a.m. BST (0425 UTC). It was attached to an out-of-service passenger train to be dragged northwards when, for reasons which are being investigated by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, it broke free near Archway station at 6.44 a.m. and started rolling southwards. The train ran through six stations before it was finally brought to a halt by a slight incline in the track at Warren Street at 6.57 a.m.

Passenger Tom Redfern, on the preceding train at Archway, described what happened to the BBC: "As soon as we pulled away the driver came on the tannoy and said, 'There is an emergency, will everyone move towards the front of the train'. There was a ripple of panic. I went from half asleep to a big adrenaline rush. I thought, 'Is this it?'"

The passenger train was rerouted onto the City Branch of the Northern Line, and bypassed all stations until Moorgate in an attempt to keep ahead of the runaway, while the runaway was routed down the Charing Cross Branch.

Mr Redfern said: "We went full speed. We knew the situation was dangerous because we were going fast. Even by the driver's voice, we could tell it was serious."

London Underground director Richard Parry said that at no time was the runaway closer than 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) to a passenger train. Service was suspended between Finchley Central and Archway, and between Camden Town and Kennington via Charing Cross, while investigations into the cause of the runaway took place.