Not stopping at the next station – there's no driver

A runaway train brought chaos to London Underground yesterday as it hurtled through six stops on the Northern line.

Staff were forced to divert other trains from the path of the unmanned engineering train, which rolled south for 13 minutes before coming to a stop at Warren Street station.

London Underground said the train had become defective at 5.25am yesterday as it approached Archway station. Engineers began to move the train northbound by coupling it to an out-of-service Northern line train.

A spokesman went on: "However, for reasons that are now under investigation, at around 6.44am the engineering train became detached from the Northern line train and began to move southbound."

As staff in the Underground's central control room monitored the runaway car's progress, trains filling up before the morning rush-hour were diverted to the Northern line's City branch, while the engineering train was diverted along the parallel Charing Cross branch.

Services on large parts of the Northern line were suspended until late morning. Passengers on some trains were told the disruption had been caused by "late-running engineering works".

But as details of the incident emerged yesterday afternoon, transport unions expressed concern. Pat Sikorski, assistant general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: "We are appalled and horrified at this major incident during passenger traffic hours and which could have very easily resulted in disaster.

"The runaway train, which it is suspected broke loose from a failed emergency coupling, represents a safety failure of the highest order. We understand that a collision with a passenger-service train leaving Archway was only narrowly avoided."

Mr Sikorski said the RMT was "seeking urgent answers as to whether or not third-party contractors were involved in this incident – particularly as the findings from Potters Bar [rail crash] ruled that third-party contractors should not be involved in rail maintenance works".

He went on: "This horrific failure comes against a background of a systematic reduction in safety-critical jobs and safety procedures as a direct result of Transport for London's cuts programme. In the light of this morning's events it is essential that TfL call a halt to their cuts plans and bring an end to the dilution of Tube safety."

The LU's director, Richard Parry, said: "Safety is our top priority, and we have of course launched an immediate and thorough investigation into this incident to establish the cause.

"Once that investigation is complete, we will publish the report, making its conclusions and recommendations clear. In the meantime, we have prohibited the use of this design of engineering train on the Underground.

"From the start of this incident, an immediate assessment was made and operational decisions taken to minimise the safety risk to our customers and staff."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence