London Underground fined over ‘potentially tragic’ runaway train through Archway and Tufnell Park

PUBLISHED: 16:18 01 March 2013 | UPDATED: 16:21 01 March 2013

The train hurtled through seven stations

The train hurtled through seven stations

2010 Getty Images

London Underground has been handed a hefty fine over an out-of-control train that a judge said could have caused a “terrible tragedy”.

The maintenance train hurtled through seven Tube stops including Archway and Tufnell Park and could have collided with a passenger service.

It came within 600 metres of a packed Tube that was told to speed out of Archway to outrun the 39-tonnes engineering vehicle on Friday August 13, 2010.

London Underground and Tube Lines, which are both owned by Transport for London, and German firm Schweerbau GMBH were fined £100,000 each.

All three pleaded guilty to endangering passengers and staff under health and safety law at the Old Bailey yesterday.

The runaway train, a rail grinding unit, had previously broken down only a month before the incident.

Judge Richard Hone told the court: “There was the potential of terrible tragedy.”

He said the train was out of control for four miles during 16 minutes.

“To those involved it must have seemed an extremely frightening eternity,” he added.

Jonathan Ashley-Norman, prosecuting for the Office of Rail Regulation, said: “It could have led to tragedy, but thanks to the immediate actions of LU staff, no one was hurt.”

Problems started when the train broke down near Archway. A passenger train was called in to tow it away, but the coupler failed and it began rolling downhill, with no brakes.

Speeds of 30mph were reached as it raced after the passenger train, which was told to keep going and not stop while its passengers were told to run to the front carriages, the Old Bailey heard.

Control staff watched helplessly as they saw the flashing lights of both vehicles turn into one on their monitors.

It eventually stopped at Warren Street when it reached an upward incline.

London Underground director Mike Strzelecki said: “This was clearly a serious incident and LU and Tube Lines acted quickly to investigate its causes and take action to ensure that the risk of such a rare incident recurring was minimised.

“Following the incident LU immediately put in place procedures to remove the engineering train and tow-bar from use on the railway. Since then LU and Tube Lines have put in place even tighter controls.”

He added: “LU staff’s swift actions meant that this incident was drawn to a safe conclusion. LU has an excellent and improving safety record, with more than 10 times fewer serious incidents on the Tube than in 2000.”

Latest Islington News Stories

Yesterday, 13:00

An innovative NHS project that hires people with first-hand experience of mental illness to support mental health patients across Islington has won a national award.

Yesterday, 11:59

A hundred neighbours were rushed from their beds on Saturday evening as a major gas leak saw Green Lanes locked down.

Yesterday, 10:48

A chatty Big Issue seller who died alone in a hostel room. A table tennis-playing “teddy bear” who killed himself. At least four people who were homeless in Islington have died over the last 12 months, but no one is recording their deaths.

Yesterday, 07:55

Islington has enrolled in national anti-sugar campaign to battle tooth decay and unhealthy diets.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A housing association has been lambasted for its “appalling” approach to repair and maintenance work on a Clerkenwell estate.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Jamie Brown of Archant Local Impact explains how you can build brand awareness.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Volunteers from a Finsbury Park charity that uses surplus food to cook for people in need have scoooped an award for their “outstanding” meals.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A multi-billion-pound gas company has bowed to opposition and abandoned plans to partially astroturf the historic Canonbury Square Gardens.


Fostering older teenagers means giving them the skills for life as an adult. Here, a supportive lodgings carer with Islington Council and young adult who has left care share their stories

Newsletter Sign Up

Islington Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now