Rail bosses have warned passengers against self-evacuating from trains after ‘multiple occasions’ where stranded commuters took to the tracks.
Southeastern and Network Rail will be appointing an independent investigator to carry out a full review of these events. It is widely accepted that better communication is needed.
Southeastern railway highlighted an incident on Friday evening (2 March) where passengers forced open doors on a train that had become stuck outside Lewisham station after struggling to draw power from the frozen third rail.
A spokesman said: ‘We'd like to sincerely apologise to all our passengers who were caught up in the disruption and especially those stranded on busy trains. We understand the conditions were extremely difficult for them whilst we dealt with major disruption caused by ice affecting the power supply to our trains.
‘On multiple occasions on Friday evening, people evacuated from trains against the advice of railway staff or the British Transport Police, presenting a significant risk to their safety.
‘The safety of our passengers and employees is our foremost priority, and with people on the track Network Rail had no choice but to switch off the power supply until people cleared the track, which prolonged the situation further.’
He added: ‘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. We have also informed the independent Rail Accident Investigation Branch of the circumstances and invited them to carry out their own investigation.’
An spokesperson for the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said: 'RAIB will carry out a preliminary examination of the incident to understand the circumstances and determine whether to conduct an investigation.'
In a joint message with the rail industry, British Transport Police warned: ‘Self evacuating from trains is never a good idea as it places you and others at significant risk’.
The message added: ‘We are working to improve the provision of information and announcements in the event of a stranded service and to help manage any significant disruption. It’s clear that communication will help avoid passenger action in these extreme circumstances.’
Barry Sheerman, MP, chair of the all Party Parliamentary Group on Transport Safety, wrote on Twitter: 'All of us interested in rail safety should be pressing for a full enquiry into the events near Lewisham where passengers were incarcerated for hours.’