RAIB to investigate Clapham Common Tube station ‘smoke panic …

The [1] has set out its plan to investigate an incident earlier this month at [2] [3] Underground station.

The incident took place during the evening peak period on Friday 5 May at around 5.43pm.

Passengers operated the emergency alarm on the train as it departed the station in a northbound direction. The passengers believed that they had smelled burning, although [4] Underground maintenance staff later concluded that the smell was probably emissions from the train's brakes.

The operation of the Passenger Emergency Alarm (PEA) brought the train to a halt. The leading car was fully in the tunnel, the second car, partially in the tunnel, the remaining four cars fully in the platform. The train's doors remained closed, but within a short time, passengers began breaking windows in order to get out of the train. Others left the train via the doors connecting the carriages. RAIB refers to this as an ‘uncontrolled evacuation'.

Once station staff arrived, they opened the train doors and the rest of the passengers exited through the open doors.

Although no-one was seriously injured, at least one passenger reported cutting their hands. The London Fire Brigade found no evidence that there had been a fire.

Witnesses filmed the incident and posted footage on social media, and while some commenters were quick to blame station staff, others emphasised that the incident illustrated the dangers of [5] reducing the number of staff it deploys on its stations.

The RAIB's investigation aims to identify the sequence of events that led to the incident, and will also consider:

  • how and why the people involved acted as they did
  • [6]'s procedures for responding to and managing out-of-course incidents such as this
  • what arrangements London Underground has in place to manage and control the risks of a suspected fire on one of its trains
  • the design and maintenance of the train's braking system
  • any underlying management factors.

The RAIB's investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry or by the industry's regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

It will publish its findings, and any recommendations arising from them, when it completes the investigation, and will publish its report on its website.


  1. ^ (www.railadvent.co.uk)
  2. ^ (www.railadvent.co.uk)
  3. ^ (www.railadvent.co.uk)
  4. ^ (www.railadvent.co.uk)
  5. ^ (www.railadvent.co.uk)
  6. ^ (www.railadvent.co.uk)