Not enough staff to cope with station emergency

A SERIOUS incident at Canning Town Tube station was made much worse than it should have been by a shortage of staff at the station, according to a report leaked to the press last week.

The incident, where a woman fell between a train and the overcrowded platform, happened on 26th May this year and led to the Jubilee Line being temporarily closed.

And the woman faced a long wait before being rescued, with her foot trapped between the train and the platform, because the control room at the station was unstaffed.

The report leaked from Transport for London (TfL) said that having no one in the control room meant that the emergency response was “uncoordinated”.

The RMT union at the time demanded a “full and transparent formal investigation,” insisting that “there must be no cover-up”.

The RMT said: “The incident exposed the growing problem of overcrowding and its impact on the Platform/Train interface and making a nonsense of LU’s [London Underground’s] move to de-staff station control rooms.

“The union has demanded a ‘full and transparent formal investigation’, and has listed the concerns raised as one of a growing number of safety-critical issues that must be addressed by the new London Mayor and his transport officials.

“In the incident last Thursday, Canning Town Jubilee Line and DLR platforms ended up dangerously overcrowded after the passenger fell under the train as growing numbers of people ended up being shunted from one part of the station to the other.

“Those at the sharp end ended up having no idea of passenger numbers and the scale of the over-crowding problems owing to the fact that the state of the art control room — with communications, CCTV and emergency monitoring equipment — has been left permanently unstaffed due to the cuts to station numbers that RMT has been fighting.


“The incident, which has appalled members of the public and which has made it on to YouTube, is one of several safety-critical incidents that have occurred since London Underground decided to effectively close many of their hi-tech station and expensively-equipped control rooms because of staffing cuts.

“Major and busy stations including Canning Town, West Ham and Fulham Broadway are all victims of these cuts. RMT has warned that the Canning Town incident will not be the last and points to the latest RAIB [Rail Accident Investigation Branch] annual report which warns that life-threatening incidents at the Platform/train Interface are on the rise.”

Transport for London has not yet commented on the leaked report. The woman became trapped for about 15 minutes during the morning rush hour just weeks after ticket offices were closed and staff removed from control rooms.

Jubilee line services were suspended whilst emergency services attended. Prior to the changes control rooms on the Jubilee line were staffed by an assistant who co-ordinated emergencies and was in contact with several control centres. But the leaked report said: “With the control room at Canning Town being unstaffed there was no central base for communications to flow in and out of.

“Station classification lead to low numbers of staff being present to manage an emergency.” The report also said that TfL had “failed” to carry out a post-implementation review to see if there had been any problems following the changes. It concluded and recommended a public safety campaign be used this autumn and that the station be reclassified so it could benefit from control room staff.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Too many jobs have been cut and what we’re left with is a Tube system that cannot properly respond to emergency situations.

“I am calling on London Underground to bring forwards a planned one year review of their new staffing arrangements.”