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'Very dangerous, and illegal' - rail users warned over using emergency stop cord after three days worth of delays

PUBLISHED: 14:31 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:37 04 March 2019

Greater Anglia is asking passengers to only activate the emergency cord in a genuine emergency following a spate of malicious acts which delayed trains by nearly three days in total last year. Picture: Greater Anglia

Greater Anglia is asking passengers to only activate the emergency cord in a genuine emergency following a spate of malicious acts which delayed trains by nearly three days in total last year. Picture: Greater Anglia

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Rail users are being reminded that stop cords are for genuine emergencies only after passengers caused three days worth of delays by using them for incidents including missing their stop and 'simply wanting to get off'.

An incident on Greater Anglia train in Bishop Storford where the emergency alarm was wrongly used. Picture: Greater AngliaAn incident on Greater Anglia train in Bishop Storford where the emergency alarm was wrongly used. Picture: Greater Anglia

In 2018, the emergency alarm was maliciously activated 219 times across the Greater Anglia network, causing more than 4,100 minutes of delays – the equivalent of almost three days.

So far in 2019, the alarm has been activated more than 20 times, the majority of which have been hoaxes or non-emergencies.

Now, Greater Anglia is cracking down on the problem and is warning people who incorrectly use the emergency cord that they will be caught, prosecuted and could face a fine of up to £1,000.

When the emergency cord is pulled the train’s brakes are automatically applied, and the driver must walk through the train to reset it before the train can begin moving again.

This not only delays the train on which the alarm has been activated but also all other services travelling on the same line.

Matt Wakefield, Greater Anglia’s head of safety, security and sustainability, said: “The passenger alarm should only be used in an emergency.

“Recently, people have activated the alarm because they have fallen asleep and missed their stop, or because they simply want to get off the train.

“In one instance, a passenger pulled the cord, forced the doors open and climbed down onto the track. Not only is this very dangerous, it’s also illegal.

“Pulling the passenger alarm when there is not a genuine emergency delays the train and cause knock-on delays for other services.

“We are working with British Transport Police and will prosecute people caught doing it. Anyone prosecuted could end up with a £1,000 fine,” he said.

Passengers who feel unwell while on a trains are advised to stay on the train until the next stop, where conductors can then call for help.

If someone becomes ill on a train and it is a life-threatening emergency, passengers should dial 999 and alert any staff on board or contact Greater Anglia via Twitter.

Anyone who witnesses the passenger alarm being activated maliciously should text British Transport Police on 61016.

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