A test by Network Rail to see how effective introducing new queuing systems at stations during the Olympic Games will be has been overshadowed by an overcrowding incident on the Northern line. Travellers were denied access to King’s Cross Underground station because of a faulty train which necessitated closing the platforms to clear congestion.
The closure happened for 15 minutes just before 9am. At the same time Network Rail was rehearsing restrictions which will be put in place during the Games at London Bridge, Waterloo East, Cannon Street, Victoria and Charing Cross.
Although the train operator reported that the tests had gone well the Rail, Maritime and Transport union was quick to question just how prepared the transport networks in London were for the Games. Bob Crow, general secretary of the union, said a raft of cuts to maintenance and staff numbers meant that transport systems will have little more than prayers to rely on if they are to run smoothly.
Labour transport spokesperson for the London Assembly, Val Shawcross, is also worried that the capital may be unprepared for a significant increase in passenger numbers. She said that with only 17 days until the event starts it was a concern that Tube passengers were facing overcrowding problems at major stations during a normal rush-hour.
Operations director for the Underground, Nigel Holness, said that a faulty train at King’s Cross had led to some overcrowding issues which prevented passengers getting onto platforms but that the situation had been remedied within 15 minutes.