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.


  1. The "Team Leader" was a Carnival duty. They are additional (LU) staff that assist the Supervisor in running the station on those busy shifts. Normally for the time of day there would be 1 Supervisor and 1 CSA on duty there per section 12 requirements.

  2. Thanks, it's been over ten years since I moved from stations to trains and the only time I did Carnival was at Bayswater in 1998, spent the entire shift stood on the platform with a loudhailer asking people to move away from the stairs.

  3. One issue that this incident highlights is the Inner Inter-Car Barriers or 'ladders' as I call them. During the 'panic' passengers used these to climb out of the train onto the roof or to clamber over the 'Outer' Inter-Car Barriers.

    The YouTube only shows 1 person using these ladders.During the incident many more people used them. It is a miracle that on one slipped and fell between the carriages seriously injuring themselves.

    These barriers need to be removed immediately. They were introduced to stop passengers getting off the train which the current design fails to do.

  4. There is to be an RAIB investigation into this incident.