I got Trapped Underground recently.
Here’s an extract from the London Underground official report.
Incident Description :- At 1852 a wheelchair customer pressed the help point at the hub, bottom of escalators 16-19.
Lift #6 had been advertised as being out of service from 0629 this morning.
The gentleman complained that escalator 6 was out. CSM answered the call & explained that we have advertised that we are not step free on the TFL website.
The man asked what he should do & was given the suggestion that he take the Piccadilly Line lift to the platform, take a train to Caledonian Road & then take a bus down. He said that he’d miss his last train from KX.
This displeased him & he started saying that it should be on a board at every station & that he has sued LU twice & would do it again. I again repeated that it has been advertised to which he asked if he’s supposed to go online every time he travels?
Mid rant, the help point cut out. I could see him on CCTV still talking. Then he started hitting the emergency button repeatedly, which caused it to stick & the alarm go off continuously in the control room.
CSM , CSS & CSA started to make their way over to the hub, calling CSA to meet them there.
When they arrived, the man started going on about LU not caring about disabled people. “If it was an escalator out, it would be publicised everywhere, but because the lift is only for disabled people, you don’t care”.
I explained that the lifts are not just for disabled people. They are for anyone that wants to use them.
He again repeated that he’s sued LU twice & this will be number 3.
He said that he had a train to catch from KX & it was his last train tonight.
Rather than stand arguing with him, CSM asked CSAs & if they felt comfortable using the escalator to take the man up on his wheelchair. The man was rather large, but both agreed.
The man was taken up escalator 16.
He thanked the 2 CSAs at the top & went on his way, still talking lawsuits.
Findings of immediate investigation (basic cause) :- Lift 6 out of service for door repair.
Customer hadn’t bothered to check the TFL website before he travelled.
Other than the fact that I didn’t say that “it should be on a board at every station” (and of course that I am extremely slim and lithe 🙂 ) the report is largely correct. But it gives a very different flavour from the experience. Compare the cold hard report above from the real stressful experience in the video…
London Underground policy
I submitted a Freedom of Information Request:
Please provide me with your procedures and policy as to what you should do if a station’s lift goes out of order. The lift went out early morning, but there was no sign on the gates as to what to do, no warning at Green Park or Westminster or in the other lifts at Kings Cross and so on. When I pressed for help at the information point, staff had no existing plan as to how I could get to the surface, and had to think on their feet. I want to know what should have happened, at Kings Cross and elsewhere, as a result of step free access suddenly being withdrawn. I also want to know what actions you would take if the escalator or the stairs are broken or obstructed, so that I can compare and contrast your approaches. Please provide me with all of this information.
They supplied the following London Underground policies.
☑ the relevant ones they did, and cross
☒ the relevant ones they didn’t.
The ‘Station Presentation’ section of the Customer Service Supervisors / Managers Handbook states:
When a lift is out of service:
☒display a poster explaining that the lift is out of service
☒tell stations either side
☒display the information on the train operators boards
☒Use general information boards to tell customers of the out of service lift as they might choose to use alternative routes.
The London Underground Rule Book 11 (Station Management) states:
(In relation to customer information boards)
You must display on customer information boards (where possible) information about any disruptions to:
- the train service
☒any station facilities.
(In relation to station PA announcements)
You must make sure the following information is given to customers:
- train service details, including train destinations
- if the destination of a train is to be changed in any way
- advice on platform train interface safety
☒details of any facilities that are not available
- customer flow and crowd control instructions (where appropriate)
- details of evacuation procedures (when needed).
In terms of what staff should do to ensure that a disabled person can complete their journey in the event of a lift going out of service, there are a range of options, and the appropriate option to use will depend on the particular circumstances.
Rule Book 9 (Lifts, escalators and moving walkways) states:
There are several options for discussion with a wheelchair user when a station is being evacuated or their planned route is no longer viable due to severe service disruption. These can include any combination of the following:
- boarding another accessible train
- using other step free access, if available
- waiting in a place of safety until the service resumes
☒to be assisted up a moving escalator by two members of staff.
Wheelchairs are only permitted to be carried in the up direction on escalators at designated stations, with trained staff.
If an alternative route is to be used, you must confirm:
- the route is viable for the wheelchair user, and
☒staff will be available along the journey, where needed.
I put a
☒ against “to be assisted up a moving escalator” because I wasn’t offered that; I was simply told to catch the tube to Caledonian Road and a bus back and “there’s nothing else we can do.” Only when I mashed the emergency button until it broke did they pull the escalator option out of the hat.
The ‘Managing Customer Service’ part of the Operational Manager Handbook states:
You can book a special taxi, for example, in the following circumstances:
- operational requirements
- staff ill health issues
- for customers (for example, a customer taken ill or last train cancelled)
☒for disabled customers if they are unable to use part of the network that is usually accessible to them
☒If a lift at a step-free station is out of order, it might be appropriate to arrange a special taxi to help a disabled customer make part or all of their journey
Taxis booked on an ad hoc basis are called ‘special taxis’ to differentiate them from scheduled taxis.
In relation to stairs, if the stairs are broken or obstructed such that they can’t be used and there is no alternative route, the station would be closed.
In relation to escalators, comparisons with lifts are difficult because often there is more than one escalator in the same direction in a bank, so it is rare that there will be no escalator access. However, the point about booking a special taxi applies.
The ‘Managing customer service’ part of the Customer Service Supervisors / Managers Handbook states:
Non-availability of step-free access
☒London Underground has a legal obligation to provide alternative transport to a disabled customer if transport which is usually accessible to that customer becomes inaccessible.
If a customer who needs step-free access cannot use a step-free station and therefore cannot reach their step-free destination for one of the following reasons:
- a lift is out of service
- there is a planned closure
- there is service disruption or a station closure (which means that a disabled customer would have a more difficulty continuing their journey)
- an escalator or lift is out of service resulting in a disabled person, who is normally able to use a station is no longer able to
- a disabled customer has experienced significant disruption to their journey (for example they were inadvertently sent to an inaccessible station and couldn’t alight)
☒Make sure they are given help to plan an alternative accessible journey.
☒whether there is a bus or a rail replacement bus service which will take them to a step-free station en route (where they can continue their journey) or to their destination or, and
☒whether the bus is accessible for the customer
☒the alternative station is accessible to them
A blue wheelchair logo on the Tube map means that a wheelchair user can board or alight. A white wheelchair logo means they are unlikely to be able to board or alight.
☒If there is a single accessible bus journey to the customer’s destination or a step-free station en route advise them of this. If there is not a single accessible bus journey you should offer an unscheduled taxi to the nearest available step free station en route or to their final destination if it is more practical.
☒Disabled customers are likely to experience a much longer delay to their journey than non-disabled customers when using alternative routes, if this is the case consider using an unscheduled taxi.
I never got to use the tick ☑ 🙂
But of course, this whole thing was caused by the Hand of Fate and by my irresponsibility; as noted basic causes were “Lift 6 out of service for door repair. Customer hadn’t bothered to check the TFL website before he travelled.”
I’m very sorry for the inconvenience I caused London Underground by my selfishness.