Londoners face worst commute in years after 17 station closures

People fell on to tracks on the underground network in two separate incidents, and a third person fell in front of an overground train at King's Cross station

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The Independent Online

People travelling home from work experienced severe delays and overcrowding in London on Wednesday, in one of the worst rush hours the capital has experienced for years.

With the city's underground network buckling under pressure, Transport for London (TfL) was forced to close and evacuate at least 17 tube stations, and run many lines with severe delays.

Commuters caught in the chaos took to social media to express anger and distress as gates were shut at Victoria, Oxford Circus, Bond Street, Knightsbridge, Green Park, Holborn, Finsbury Park, Highbury & Islington, Marble Arch, Warren Street, Walthamstow, and Queensway stations.

People said there was an "information blackhole" as they tried to make their way home in the evening, following a day of public transport disruption.

In two separate incidents people fell on to tracks on the underground network, closing the Central Line and Victoria Line temporarily.

The Piccadilly Line also suffered breakdowns and continued to operate with severe delays this morning, while engineers attempted to repair faulty wheels on some trains. Problems are expected to persist on the line for up to a fortnight.

Yesterday evening, a woman rushing for a train at Kings Cross, one of London's busiest stations, slipped and fell off the platform as people surged forwards when it was announced a delayed train to Leeds would leave in two minutes.

A witness told the Evening Standard: "Moments after setting off the train stopped and we were advised that someone was stuck under the train and we were evacuated.

"I think it may have been more to do with the fact they confirmed the platform two minutes prior to departure so everyone was running to make the train."

She was taken to hospital, where she was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The Victoria Line was suspended in the afternoon, after a person was hit and killed by a train at Blackhorse Road in north London.

On the Central Line, a 52-year-old man was hit by a train at Holland Park shortly before 5pm. He survived without life-threatening injuries.

Meanwhile, Oxford Circus became almost inaccessible with the entire junction blocked by commuters who could not get into the underground station.

Zoe Loftus-Bell described the panicked scenes as emergency alarms sounded at Kings Cross.

She told the Metro: "I walked to Euston and by the time I arrived they begun to evacuate that too.

"Staff told me to go into a tunnel then closed it from the other side so I felt trapped, everyone was panicking and flustered. I’m okay despite a few elbows to the head."

A Transport for London spokesman said in a statement: "We apologise for the disruption caused to customers this evening. For the safety of our customers we implemented crowd control measures at some of our busier stations to prevent overcrowding at platform level.

"Our staff worked hard to keep customers informed of what was happening and to help them with their journeys."

He added: "It was unquestionably a difficult day with issues on a number of different lines that made journeys home very difficult, for which we sincerely apologise."