Encouraging a female from a railway track.

Today like any other work day I booked on for my duty as a Train Operator on London Underground’s Bakerloo Line. I picked up my train and commenced my driving stint heading northbound from Queen’s Park station destined for Harrow and Wealdstone.

After just two stops I was contacted via my trains radio informing me the electrical supply to the track that powers our trains was to be discharged following reports of a person on the track in a bay road at Willesden Junction station in north west London, a section of railway belonging to Network Rail, the station staffed and operated by London Overground. With no current my train was not going to move so I offered my assistance in dealing with the incident, the offer was accepted.

I shut down and fully secured my train. Made my way hurriedly along the platform whereby I came across two members of London Overground staff observing a very distressed and inebriated female lying on the track a mere 5 inches from a current rail that carries around 420 vdc, the current as I said had been discharged following the initial report. I’m always loathe to criticise members of railway staff during such incidents as often things can turn sour on our railway very quickly taking staff by surprise. I was not happy to see railway staff watching something instead of doing something.

I confirmed with one of the staff that British Transport Police (BTP) had been requested to attend. Crossing a barrier but still on the platform I engaged the distressed woman. What quickly became apparent was that she was very upset about something very minor in no small part due to alcohol consumption. I spoke to her very calmly and reassuringly that we would sort her issues but could only do so once we remove her from the danger of the track area.

She was too upset to listen consumed by her ‘problem’, she then did something that put me a little at ease. She proceeded to lay a jacket down like a blanket then laid down on it. This action told me she didn’t want to get her clothes dirty thus was not going to do anything more dangerous than the situation she was already in. I donned a Hi Visibility vest and jumped down to the track. Approaching her I crouched down, took her hand and spoke softly assuring her that the problems she had would be all be resolved if she just let me take her to the safety of the platform. It took a while but I managed to convince her this was best for her. Getting her to the platform was no simple task, this lady, about 55, 5ft 7in, very drunk and needed lifting up to the platform. Once off the track I assisted her to negotiate a hand rail that she could neither go over or under, through it was.

I passed responsibility for her to London Overground staff ensuring they understood that for her safety she should be removed from the station and not permitted to re-enter.

I boarded my train, entered my drivers cab, inserted my train keys and made a radio call confirming the track was clear of people and the electrical supply could be restored. Once the current came back on I drove my train with my passengers like nothing had happened.

What is most surprising is that such a serious incident was fully resolved with a delay of just approx seven minutes.

All in a days work for London Underground staff. We have a saying ‘if no one got hurt or died then it was a good day’. Today was a good day.

5 minutes later a pigeon was less fortunate after flying head on into the front of my train whilst it was moving at 40mph!