Unions flag overcrowding concerns on tube after man falls off platform
Transport for London (TfL) has ruled out installing barriers on the edges of underground platforms after calls for action following an accident at Oxford Circus.
A man suffered serious leg injuries and is in a critical condition in hospital after falling into the path of a Victoria line train from the edge of a crowded platform during Wednesday evening rush hour.
TfL said an unspecified medical episode had caused the man to fall, and British Transport Police confirmed that there were no suspicious circumstances. However, some passengers who witnessed the accident said the platform was overcrowded at the time and called for safety barriers to be installed.
Unions said there were serious concerns about the levels of overcrowding on the London underground. Finn Brennan, the London district organiser for Aslef, said health and safety reps were worried about how difficult it was for people feeling unwell to leave crowded platforms and seek help. Weve highlighted recently the sheer number of people fainting because of overcrowding.
He added that staff reductions at TfL had contributed to problems in managing rush-hour crowds.
Delays due to overcrowding have escalated this decade. Congestion-related incidents that have stopped trains for two minutes or more have almost quadrupled since 2012 to 504 in 2018. On the Victoria line, where the accident occurred, the number of these delays has soared from 27 to 179.
A full inquiry into the accident will be conducted by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch. A TfL spokesman said initial investigations had showed that overcrowding was not a cause, and that the platform had not been busier than usual at peak times.
The former England cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent, who was standing on the platform and witnessed Wednesdays incident, urged TfL to improve safety and reduce overcrowding.
She tweeted: Absolutely horric [sic] scenes at Oxford Circus and I just watched a man fall under the tube 2m in front of me @TfL this is unacceptable that in one of the most sophisticated cities in the world stations are allowed to get this rammed.
People pushing and shoving each other and putting life at risk just trying to get home from work something needs to be done urgently.
Another witness, student Tom Powell, tweeted to TfL: You need to install platform edge doors on all non-Jubilee line ASAP. I dont ever want to see what Ive just witnessed.
Barriers between the train and the platform edge, with doors opening automatically for boarding, are currently installed on the sub-surface Jubilee line and will be a feature of the new, delayed Elizabeth line when the central section of Crossrail is completed.
Although recorded incidents include falls, suicides, and cases where people have been deliberately been pushed on to the line, a TfL spokesman said it was not aware of any passenger being jostled or accidentally pushed from an overcrowded platform.
He said there were no plans to install barriers, which would involve long closures to major interchanges. Due to the age of the network installing barriers across the network would be a huge engineering challenge and very costly.
He added: We are confident that the network is safe. It is regulated and monitored, and our staff are experienced and well-trained in maintaining safety.
Station entrances are routinely closed to manage overcrowding at Oxford Circus and elsewhere on the Victoria line, which links Brixton, in south London, to Walthamstow in the north-east. Last year TfL closed Oxford Circus 113 times, approximately once every three days.
Arthur Leathley, the chair of London Travelwatch, said: Everyone does feel concerned when they are crammed on a platform the dangers are obvious.
But, he added: People are realistic if you were starting from scratch youd have wider platforms. It is a congested system. Crossrail will alleviate these issues.
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