TfL report says runaway Northern Line tube could have ended in deaths

A RUNAWAY train that hurtled through six stations was caused by flawed equipment and could have resulted in fatalities, an official report has concluded.

On the morning of Friday August 13, packed Tube trains were ordered not to stop as they attempted to outrun the engineering vehicle.

Transport for London’s report has revealed that the out of control train, a “rail grinding unit”, was being towed by an empty passenger Tube when a “flawed” emergency coupler failed at Archway station, and it began rolling down the hill.

It careered through six Northern Line stops, including Tufnell Park, Camden Town and Euston, before coming to a halt before Warren Street.

The report said: “The potential outcomes of the incident were a collision with another train or with the infrastructure, either of which might have resulted in serious injuries or fatalities.”

Trouble started when the unit broke down at Archway – a month after it had broken down at another station.

A passenger train was called in to tow it away, but an emergency brake kicked in when it picked up too much speed – and the resulting forces caused the flawed coupler to fail.

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As it flew along the track, London Underground staff made an unsuccessful attempt to derail the vehicle at Mornington Crescent.

The TfL report added that the pressure to quickly resume service had affected decision making.

A TfL spokesman said: “This was clearly a serious incident and London Underground has acted quickly to investigate its causes and take action to prevent this from happening again.

“All staff involved followed LU’s procedures correctly, and their swift actions meant that this incident was drawn to a safe conclusion. London Underground has an excellent and improving safety record, with ten times fewer serious incidents on the Tube than in 2000. This has been achieved in part by ensuring that all significant incidents are investigated thoroughly and the root causes addressed.”