Investigation launched after frustrated rail passengers walk on tracks

An investigation has been launched after frustrated rail passengers got off a stranded train and walked along the tracks.

Police were called when passengers stuck on a stationary Southeastern train forced the doors open near Lewisham Station, south London, on Friday evening.

The rail company said people had evacuated from trains on "multiple occasions" and that an independent investigator would review the events.

It has asked the Rail Accident Investigation Branch to carry out their own investigation.

Emergency workers at Lewisham station after passengers frustrated by delays jumped from trains and walked down tracks near the station (Victoria Jones/PA)
Emergency workers at Lewisham station after passengers frustrated by delays jumped from trains and walked down tracks near the station (Victoria Jones/PA)

A Southeastern spokesman said: "Southeastern and Network Rail will be appointing an independent investigator to carry out a full review of the events last night.

"Although events of this nature are extremely rare, we are determined to learn lessons that we can apply at all levels to prevent and mitigate future incidents."

Apologising for the "major disruption", Southeastern said it "had no choice" but to turn off the power supply, which worsened delays.

It comes as officers from the British Transport Police (BTP) posted a warning on Twitter urging those tempted to evacuate from trains to stay on board where they were "far safer".

A joint message from ourselves and the rail industry...please, please do not self-evacuate from trains.

-- BTP (@BTP) March 3, 2018

The BTP statement said: "This week we have seen a number of incidents of people self-evacuating from trains stranded due to the exceptional weather.

"Whilst we totally understand it isn't pleasant being trapped on a train, you are far safer on board.

"Self-evacuating from trains is never a good idea as it places you and others at significant risk. You are risking your life trespassing on live tracks.

"Further delays are also inevitable if people self-evacuate as power has to be turned off for safety reasons."

BTP said it recognised that communication would help avoid passengers taking desperate measures, saying it was working to improve the delivery of information.

The snow and ice has caused significant disruption to rail services across the country, with many lines suspended during the worst of the icy blast.

On Thursday evening, passengers on a South Western Railway service between London Waterloo and Weymouth were forced to endure a night without heating or electricity inside the carriages.

The train ground to a halt near Christchurch, Dorset, after the train track providing it with power froze, causing four other trains to stop behind it.

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