Monday 9 September 2013

Over the last week I’ve managed to find out more about the incident at HOP through various sources and for starters it wasn’t a brake fault it was a “flashover” on one of the motors which sounds dramatic but in fact is no more life threatening than a dragging brake.

The train was stopped by someone pulling down a Passenger Emergency Alarm in Car 2 and the TOp tried to find out what the problem was by speaking to the passenger over the “talkback”.  The passenger must have said “fire” which the TOp misheard this as “fight”, not unexpected on August Bank Holiday in W11, but when you consider all the noise the other passengers were making in the background, the noise of the PEA alarm in the cab and that some of the talkbacks are about as clear as talking through two baked bean tins with a bit of string stretched between them it is not surprising the TOp couldn’t hear what the passenger was saying.

The TOp informed Wood Lane, as the train was partway into the tunnel they couldn’t open the doors so they had to walk back through the train to investigate and reset the PEA.  It was only when they got to Car 2 that they noticed the smoke, calmed the passengers, alerted Wood Lane of the situation, went back to the cab and opened the doors.  It was only when the TOp got back to the cab that they found that handles had been pulled down on every car from 3 back to 8 but all that, from the handle being pulled down to the doors opening, took less than four minutes. 

The reason why there were no station staff on the platform was that there actually was a fight going on upstairs and everyone was up there trying to deal with it so when they were told there was another incident going on down on the platform they had to scramble down the spiral staircase. The bloke in the green hi-vi who arrives first is the “team leader” and I have absolutely no idea what they actually do, we didn’t have them when I was on stations.

So what have we learnt from this; that smoke in a train doesn’t mean you’re about to die because there is very little on a Tube train that will actually burn, that if you say “fire” it could be misheard as “fight”, especially when the Notting Hill Carnival is on, so it would be better to say “smoke” and that no matter how many staff you have on a station they can’t be two places at once.

Sunday 1 September 2013

I suppose everyone has now heard about the smoking train at HOP on Sunday, from everything I’ve heard it sounds like it suffered the equivalent of driving a car with the handbrake on but as you can imagine 150 tons of BREL 92ts is going to cause a lot more smoke and dust than a Volkswagen Golf.

Apparently the train had partly left the platform so opening the doors was not an option until the TOp had herded the passengers from the cars already in the tunnel.  In this situation the station staff are meant to operate the “butterflies” which open one set of double doors on each car but as there were no staff on the platform at the time and HOP has lifts rather than escalators they had to come to down the spiral staircase and the Central Line is about 200ft below ground.


I did hear that there were only three station staff which I find a bit surprising, it was around 7pm on Sunday evening, HOP is one down the line from NHG and it gets very busy on Carnival weekend so I’d have thought they’d have put some extras on.  LUL always ask for volunteers to work that weekend but I have been told that a lot of staff will do it once and then don’t want to do it again.  A CSA told me that this year at QUE they got a lot of abuse because neither of the lifts were working and the Super got assaulted on Sunday because the last train had gone.  I only ever worked on Carnival weekend once when I was on stations and while it was busy it was quite a jolly time so I guess I was lucky.