Tube stations closed for fireworks

The New Year began as the old one ended, with public transport struggling to cope with a great surge in demand in London by people wanting to get to and from the celebrations.

I understand the police problem, and they needed to act in a way which prevented so many people coming to harm through crowd surges.

MY criticism is of the transport authorities. The big shops manage to deal with crowd surges at the opening of their sales. Football grounds handle huge numbers of fans at popular matches. Can’t London Underground do some research and spend some money so that when large numbers of people wish to use a given station there is a better answer than closing the station completely? Of course there would need to be limits on how many people were allowed into the station at any given time, and that would mean queues with barriers outside the station. It could mean people being told that queues were too long at any station and not to wait there. But surely it would be better to move as many people as possible by tube when you have a big event like New Year?

Instead last night many people drove to the edge of the celebration zone, parked, and then all tried to drive home after the fireworks, with predictable chaos.

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2 Comments

  1. Marc
    Posted January 1, 2008 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    I wondered why they'd done this when my tube missed the Westminister stop last night. Certain areas around the London Eye were out of bounds because they were full to the brim with crowds. If people had been able to get off at these stops, and the area outside was full – they'd have been sent straight back to the station, which would have caused chaos and injury. This crowd management by the Police and stewards did appear strict, but it seemed to work.

    They could have left the stations open, but only for people boarding – but it would have been impossible to say to thousands of drunk people over the intercom "please let other passengers board the tube, but do not get off yourself" – it just wouldn't have happened.

    The fact that no one (to my knowledge) died last night, with all the hundreds of people pushing, shoving, – all leaving about the same time – makes me think that the decisions made were good ones, even if they did inconvenience some people.

    Reply: I agree that it is good no-one was crushed in the crowds, and I too praise the police. My comments were addressed to the tube managers, who need to design a way of using tube stations when there are many people wanting them. Your point could be covered by starting empty trains at very busy places to get people away after an event, and managing the numbers outside the station as well as onto the platforms.The use of the mobile crash barriers could also help queue management for people coming out of tube stations into a crowd.

  2. mikestallard
    Posted January 2, 2008 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    A bit like the arragements at the end of the Dome Millenium fiasco?

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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