A commuter was sexually assaulted while trapped on board a stranded Elizabeth line train for hours on Thursday night, police have said.
The delay was compared to a wartime evacuation, with passengers taking to social media to share pictures of them sitting in darkness and lugging baggage along train tracks.
One passenger shared her experience of being “stranded” on the Elizabeth line and said passengers were made aware of arrests for “sexual touching”.
In the video posted to X, an officer is heard saying the train had been further delayed “because someone decided that they wanted to touch someone up”.
The British Transport police confirmed the incident and said a man had been arrested.
A spokesperson said: “While responding to the incident at Paddington station on 7 December officers on scene were made aware of reports of a sexual assault. The assault was reported to have taken place on the Elizabeth line at around 8.30pm.
“A man was arrested and later released. Enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
The rush hour service lurched to a stop on Thursday night, with passengers reporting being “drip-fed” information during the long hours stuck onboard.
Eventually, the battery backup running the train’s heating and light services ran out, and passengers were left in darkness for another hour and a half until they were evacuated.
Engineers worked through the night to get two of the four lines serving Paddington open for electric trains, but commuters on Friday morning still faced delays of up to 90 minutes.
Singer James Blunt and Countdown’s Rachel Riley were among the unlucky people onboard.
Blunt took a more light-hearted approach to the chaos and said: “Been stuck somewhere outside Paddington for close to 4 hours now. Out of peanuts and wine”, while Riley wrote: “Nearly 4 hours after we got on, we’re getting off the Elizabeth line, woohoo!”
Passengers were told they would be evacuated to the nearby North Police Depot and then reportedly offered taxis to their final destination.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are so sorry for the difficult journeys passengers endured on our railway last night and we will be investigating how and why it happened.”
Anyone with information on the alleged assault is asked to contact the British Transport Police on 61016 or 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 612 of 07/12/23.
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