Lift breakdowns increase at Hampstead Tube after £1.6million upgrade

Michele Oberst at Hampstead Tube station.
She got trapped in a lift at Hampstead station and is ret

Michele Oberst at Hampstead Tube station. She got trapped in a lift at Hampstead station and is returning to thank the TfL staff who rescued her and nearly 20 others by hauling them from one lift to the other - Credit: Nigel Sutton

It is the deepest Underground station in the capital, with platforms that rest nearly 200 feet below street level.

Yet more and more passengers at Hampstead Tube station are reportedly opting for the energy-sapping climb up the spiral staircase – all 320 steps of it – rather than risking the notorious lifts.

Which on the evidence of embarrassing new lift failure statistics, may well be a wise move.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request made to Transport for London (TfL) by the Ham&High has lifted the lid on an appalling breakdown record – and it shows that matters have only worsened since £1.6million was lavished on efforts to overcome the problem.

Between January and mid-October, the lifts broke down 90 times – about once every three days.

And the rate increased to once every two days after two lifts were replaced in July, at a cost of £800,000 each.

These failed 50 times in little more than three months following the upgrade. On the single worst day, there were five faults.

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The figures are not entirely clear on the number of commuters affected, but passengers have been trapped in lifts on at least 24 occasions since January.

Fashion consultant Michele Oberst, 60, who was stuck for about 30 minutes on a sweltering July day, said: “I’m astounded that people can spend that much money and not get it right.”

Ms Oberst and about 15 others were only freed after being precariously transferred to another lift.

Staff opened a portal in the side and helped them “across the drop” into the second lift.

Ms Oberst paid tribute to the efforts of Tube workers who carried out the rescue, but said: “If they have just been installed, they should be running for a couple of years before breaking down.”

Cllr Chris Knight, who represents Hampstead Town, said: “The manufacturers need to be taken to task over why they can’t get it right.”

There are four lifts at Hampstead and the two that have not yet been upgraded are still out of service.

TfL said: “Major refurbishment work was completed on lifts three and four in July 2013.

“The lift failures that occurred on these lifts following the refurbishment were due to the new equipment requiring further fine tuning and adjustments.”