Fines over runaway tube wagon

London Underground and two rail contractors have been fined £100,000 each after a tube maintenance wagon was allowed to run out of control.

CCTV of out-of-control Tube train

These incredible CCTV pictures show a Tube maintenance train which was being towed on the Northern Line in August 2010. It then broke free and rolled back down the line at speeds of up to 30mph. It eventually came to a halt on an incline near Warren Street after passing through seven stations.

The driver jumped free of the out of control vehicle as it hurtled through Archway station. A court heard how it came with 600 metres of a passenger train.

Regulator: runaway train was 'potentially catastrophic'

Ian Prosser, Director of Safety for the Office of Rail Regulation, said:

“London Underground is one of the safest railways in the world and normally has a very good safety record. The companies responsible for running and maintaining services have an important duty to ensure that their workers and members of the public are not exposed to unnecessary safety risks.

"However, in this case, London Underground, Tube Lines and Schweerbau, through inadequate management and planning, failed to ensure the safe recovery of an engineering train. This is clearly unacceptable, and led to a potentially catastrophic incident on the Northern Line where the train careered out of control for over four miles. It was only the professionalism of control room staff taking decisive action which prevented a collision between trains, and averted a much more serious outcome.

"We welcome the steps taken by the companies to improve safety management on London Underground since this incident. The regulator will continue to closely monitor the actions of all parties involved, and will not hesitate to step in should further safety failings be found."

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Tube boss: we have an excellent safety record

Mike Strzelecki from London Underground, said:

"Thiswas clearly a serious incident and London Underground and Tube Lines actedquickly to investigate its causes and take action to ensure that the risk ofsuch a rare incident recurring was minimised.

"Following the incident LU immediately put in placeprocedures to remove the engineering train and tow-bar from use on the railway.

"Since then LU and Tube Lines have put in place even tighterapprovals and controls for the design and use of all such equipment.

"LU staff's swift actions meant that this incident was drawn to a safe conclusion. London Underground has an excellent and improving safety record, with more than 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.”

Wagon was being towed when it broke away

Jonathan Ashley-Norman, prosecuting for the Office of Rail Regulation, told the court that the rail grinding unit was being towed when it broke away during the early morning.

It started rolling downhill without brakes from Highgate and into central London in August, 2010.

"It could have led to tragedy but thanks to the immediate actions of LU staff, no one was hurt," said Mr Ashley-Norman.

Mr Ashley-Norman said attempts were made to slow the runaway train down using points at Camden Town and Mornington Crescent, and the trains were diverted onto different lines.

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

The court was told that a fault had now been remedied and the incident was extremely unlikely to occur again.

Judge: runaway wagon had potential for 'terrible tragedy'

London Underground, Tube Lines Ltd and Schweerbau GMBH had pleaded guilty to endangering passengers and staff under Health and Safety law, after the 39-tonne maintenance wagon hurtled through seven stations before it could be stopped.

A train in front of it was told to keep going and not stop, while its passengers were told to run to the front carriages, the Old Bailey heard.

Judge Richard Hone said: "There was the potential of terrible tragedy."

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

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

Fines issued over runaway tube wagon

The engineering train involved in the incident. Credit: Office of Rail Regulation.

London Underground and two rail contractors have been fined £100,000 each after a tube maintenance wagon was allowed to run out of control.

The wagon reached speeds of up to 30 miles per hour as it travelled through seven stations on the Northern Line in August 2010.

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