Passengers suffer ‘panic attacks’ in crowds at London Bridge

Rush hour: the scene at London Bridge Station last night, when staff did not appear to have a workable plan while services were being stopped

Some Croydon commuters were left distressed and concerned as they attempted to make their journeys home from London Bridge last night, with some reports from the station of delayed passengers being “kettled” and some suffering panic attacks.

The overcrowding at the station, the second time this has occurred so far this year, has prompted the deputy leader of one south London council, Greenwich, to raise a complaint with Network Rail.

The latest incident happened on an evening unaffected by any industrial action, and was attributed by a railway official to a trespasser on the tracks at Hither Green. The disruption saw Southeastern services halted, but the congestion at London Bridge impacted passengers to all destinations.

Some rail passengers posted photos on social media showing hundreds of people queuing to get up to the escalators to platforms. Some in the crowds needed assistance from station staff to get out.

“It was quite concerning and dangerous,” according to one commuter caught up in the crowding, quoted by the BBC.

“Staff seemed to not know what to do and more and more people seemed to be joining the crowd from the new connecting services.

“There was no way out and the staff closed the escalators to the platforms. At least a couple of people had to be managed towards the exit andlet through to the barriers with panic attacks.”

Some passengers blame the extreme overcrowding at the station on recent changes to timetabling of Southeastern services, many of which run through London Bridge to the Kent commuter belt. Direct services from Cannon Street were removed in the timetable changes, forcing thousands of passengers each day to change at London Bridge.

Hardly managing: last night’s social media message from Steve White of Southeastern

According to Steve White, the managing director of Southeastern, “This is the second time that crowd control has been required at London Bridge recently. The last occasion was when a points failure caused disruption.

“Tonight’s disruption was due to an emergency call stopping all trains due to a trespasser.” White noted that a “review” is to be held today.

The trespasser was soon apprehended, and power restored to the railway lines for services to resume.

This morning, a spokesperson for Southeastern said that all services resumed by 5.39pm. “We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused to our customers due to this incident.”

“A safety review will be held this morning with Network Rail.”

  • There will be no Southern rail or Gatwick Express services to or from Victoria on Saturday and Sunday, January 28 and 29 due to Network Rail engineering work. The rail operators say, “Please use alternative rail services from London Bridge, including for journeys to Gatwick Airport.” Southern tickets will be accepted on the Tube between Victoria and London Bridge. For local journeys, a replacement bus service will be running. Click here for more information about your journeys

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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