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Wrong-way tube was only metres short of disaster

PUBLISHED: 16:04 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:51 07 September 2010

TUBE drivers are to be given extra training after one of them drove the wrong way out of Camden Town station. The driver got into the cabin at the wrong end of the train and headed south on the Northern Line instead of north

Ben McPartland

TUBE drivers are to be given extra training after one of them drove the wrong way out of Camden Town station.

The driver got into the cabin at the wrong end of the train and headed south on the Northern Line instead of north.

He continued for some 108 metres, reaching a speed of almost 24km per hour before noticing a train in front of him. Realising his potentially disastrous error he slammed on the emergency break, stopping just 20 metres short of a stationary train.

On Tuesday an investigation into the incident on June 10 last year by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said drivers need more training in future. But commuters travelling home this week were far from satisfied.

Jason Sinclair from Dartmouth Park, who was travelling on the Northern Line on Tuesday evening, said: "It's pretty terrifying. You would have thought they would have controls in place to make it impossible for this to happen.

"That said it doesn't surprise me. They don't have to steer the things - maybe pointing them in the right direction is too much to ask."

The driver had changed trains from the Edgware to the High Barnet branch after a previous train had entered the station onto the wrong platform. He then boarded the wrong end of this second train and pulled away in the wrong direction.

The report said he had not seen or responded to the stop sign just beyond the end of the platform.

When he realised his mistake, he was forced to drive the tube to the Highgate depot where he was taken off his shift and tested for drugs and alcohol.

He was not found to be under the influence of any substances.

The driver was removed from his duties and no longer drives London Underground trains.

Speaking at the time, London Assembly member Brian Coleman called for an inquiry into the incident, which he said could have ended in carnage.

He said: "It beggars belief - there ought to be the most basic safety measures in place to stop this from happening.

"You shouldn't be able to drive a train the wrong way down a tunnel - it's like a little old lady going the wrong way down the M4 motorway."

Among the measures now being set out to prevent any repeats of the incident are additional staff training, better operational procedures and more warning signs.

Drivers are going to be given 'familiarity inductions' to train stations, so they are accustomed to their surroundings in case they have to change trains in the future.

The RAIB report said: "The immediate cause of the incident was that the train driver entered the incorrect cab when joining the train and drove it in the wrong direction from Camden Town station.

"The driver did not carry out the correct procedure for starting a train from a station."

ben.mcpartland@hamhigh.co.uk


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