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BBC 28/1/03, Tube derails
Page first written 31 January 2003
Last updated 31 January 2003

Derailment in London Underground

On Saturday 25 January, a London Underground train derailed and hit the tunnel wall and the platform near Chancery Lane station of Central Line at around 1400 GMT. There was no fatality but 32 were injured. This is the most serious accident since the Kings Cross fire in 1987, and is attracting interests at the time when London Underground is about to be part-privatised by the PPP scheme.

Several hours after the accident, the trade union RMT alleged as follows: "The cause of the accident was the motor falling off the train, and the driver reported the fault several stations before to the control room only to be ordered to continue on. / This is the problem previously known, and is basically a design fault." On Sunday, London Underground virtually admitted RMT's allegation, commenting: "The trains were all modified and is being checked every five days for the particular problem. / The train involved in the accident received the check two days ago and no defects were found. / The intention was to operate the train until Holborn (the station next to Chancery Lane), discontinue service there, take it to the siding to do a detailed investigation." Therefore, the investigation into the cause of Chancery Lane crash is now focused on the motor issue, and the line is now being closed.

The train used on the Central Line is the chopper-controlled fleet introduced some 10 years ago. It is incredible that problems like traction motors falling off the train have existed; more incredible is the fact that, even after the problem was identified, sufficient countermeasures were never taken to completely prevent it.

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