Finsbury Park station overcrowding figures revealed
PUBLISHED: 10:41 06 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:27 06 July 2017
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Finsbury Park station closed or partially closed 83 times in the first six months after the Wells Terrace entrance was removed, the Gazette can reveal.
Following a half-year Freedom of Information (FOI) request battle with Transport for London (TfL), figures have finally been handed over that highlight the consistent problems the station endured after one of its main entrances and exits was closed for good 12 months ago.
TfL insists Finsbury Park has not suffered since being restricted to one entrance and exit at rush hour, but commuters who use the station every day think otherwise.
In the 184 days between July 18 last year and January 18, there were 83 separate occasions when people couldn’t get onto platforms. They include:
– 12 full closures
– 6 partial closures
– 34 platform closures – all but one due to crowding, 20 instances occurred while Piccadilly Line trains were removed due to wet leaves damaging their brakes
– 20 “gateline closures” – meaning the ticket turnstiles were switched off
– 12 more separate instances of “station control” being implemented – when people are not let into the station
On one Tuesday morning in December trains didn’t stop for two hours because of overcrowding on the Victoria Line, and throughout the winter people regularly had to queue for up to 20 minutes just to get a glimpse of the ticket barriers. Sometimes they were told to go to the nearby Arsenal station.
As well as a new entrance planned to open in spring 2019, the station is getting step-free access, which means one of the two main staircases is closed until later this year. TfL operates a one-way system at rush hour – which does nothing to help.
Commuters who use the station every day have spoken to the Gazette about their fears over the number of people who get physically stuck.
Accountant Kris Milovsorov, 30, said: “Overcrowding is always a concern. Since introducing the one way system you can get big crowds outside. Although frustrating, this is reasonably safe. My real worry is when the platform becomes overcrowded. Sometimes there is barely enough room to walk along the platform.
“Closing Wells Terrace has made it worse because it has pushed people into one entrance. And various staircase work has made people realise the spiral stairs can be used to access the platform. People now walk from buses in Wells Terrace and go in via the national rail interchange. As these don’t have barriers you can’t perform crowd control. It is a tragedy waiting to happen.”
Another commuter, Luke Harper, said: “One exit closed till 2019 and three out of four staircases out of action. Which genius devised this idea at Finsbury Park?”
The FOI battle
The Gazette first sent a Freedom of Information request to TfL asking for closure figures at Finsbury Park on January 17 – six months after the Wells Terrace closure.
Following a second request for partial closures as well as full closures, TfL replied in March with what they claimed was a full list of the closures caused by overcrowding or safety reasons.
However, we believed the numbers were too low, and asked for an internal review. We also sent TfL tweets from people saying the station was closed at times not featured in the FOI figures.
The review was supposed to be returned by April 19, but it didn’t arrive until June 28. TfL said to retrieve more information, the search was extended and a site visit was undertaken. Staff reviewed Electronic Incident Reporting Forms (EIRFs) and the station log.
Green Party councillor Caroline Russell, has suggested TfL should separate those going south and those going north in the mornings, as the northbound platforms are usually empty.
A TfL spokesman told the Gazette Wells Terrace closing had no relevance to crowding. “It really doesn’t have any effect,” he said. “There would still be people outside [if it hadn’t closed], just in two locations. If there are trains not stopping or crowding on platforms people would have to wait outside whether it was at one entrance or two.”
The spokesman also suggested the improvement in recent months was down to work carried out by TfL. He said: “We carried out trials looking at where people stand on the platform and how best to get people in and out. It worked well, since then we have staff positioned at the bottom of the stairs and they help out with the one way system and encourage people to use all of the platform. It’s all made a difference.”
The new entrance is on course for a 2019 opening, despite some delays in work, TfL said.