Managers Breach Safety at Blackhorse Road

While Victoria line drivers are being sacked for safety breaches which would not even have occurred had the company fitted correct-side door enable equipment to its trains, it seems that managers can make safety-critical mistakes with impunity. An example of this took place on 7th May at Blackhorse Road station. At about 1700, both escalators failed. The Supervisor tried everything to get at least one of them restarted but without success. Because both escalators were inoperative, the Supervisor evacuated and closed the station as required by the Congestion Control and Emergency Plan (CCEP) for the station. A while later, engineers arrived to try to fix the escalators. So far, so good.

However, shortly after the engineers, a DSM arrived and was apprised of the situation by the Supervisor. He allowed the engineers to continue working on the escalators but, when they said they were unable to fix them, he decided to reopen the station. The Supervisor told the DSM that according to the CCEP the station had to remain closed until at least one of the escalators could be restarted and that he and his staff considered it dangerous to open the station with no escalators. The DSM ignored the Supervisor's advice and opened the station. He said he would need to see the CCEP for himself. Now, anyone for whom safety was the top priority would have rather kept the station closed until finding out that it was safe to reopen it. However, the DSM seemed more concerned to maintain a 'service' by keeping the station open until finding out that it was actually unsafe. Even worse, it seems that he was acting on the instructions of a more senior manager.

The station remained open for about 50 minutes until local Health and Safety rep, Amarjit Chumber, arrived with a copy of the CCEP. The DSM read the relevant section and finally agreed to close the station. The escalators were fixed within the hour and the station reopened, this time legitimately. Will anyone be stood down and sent to CDI for this potentially serious breach of safety regulations. Don't hold your breath.

Article from May 2009 edition of Finsbury Park Branch Monthly News

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