List of London Underground accidents

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The London Underground network carries more than a billion passengers a year.[1] It has one fatal accident for every 300 million journeys.[2] Five accidents causing passenger deaths have occurred due to train operation in nearly 80 years since the London Passenger Transport Board was formed, the last being at Moorgate in 1975; other fatalities have been due to wartime and terrorist bombings and station fires. 

Up to World War II[edit]

Charing Cross[edit]

Two accidents occurred near Charing Cross (now Embankment) in 1938.

The first was on 10 March when two Northern line trains collided between Waterloo and Charing Cross, with 12 passengers suffering minor injuries.

On 17 May, two District line trains collided near Charing Cross, killing 6.

Significantly, both accidents were caused by wrong-side failures of the signals due to signal linesmen's wiring errors.

World War II[edit]

Bounds Green[edit]

On the night of 13 October 1940 a German bomb fell at Bounds Green tube station killing 16 people.


On 14 October 1940, during World War II, a bomb fell in the road above Balham tube station, with the blast penetrating into the tunnel 9 metres below. The water mains and sewage pipes were broken, causing flooding and the loss of 68 lives - 64 shelterers and 4 railway staff.[3] The station and the tracks between Clapham South and Tooting Bec (then called Trinity Road, Tooting Bec) were closed until January 1941.


On 11 January 1941 during World War II the Central line ticket hall of Bank station suffered a direct hit from a German bomb. The roadway collapsed into the subways and station concourse, killing 56 people.

The Bethnal Green crush[edit]

On 3 March 1943 a crowd of people were entering what was to become Bethnal Green tube station, which was being used at the time as an air-raid shelter. An anti-aircraft battery, a few hundred yards away in Victoria Park, launched a salvo of a new type of anti-aircraft rockets, causing the crowd to surge forward. A woman tripped on the stairs causing many others to fall. Three hundred people were crushed into the stairwell, 173 died at the scene.

After World War II[edit]

Northwood crash[edit]

On 31 December 1945, two Metropolitan line trains collided in fog on an open-air section near Northwood. The driver of the second train had passed a danger signal under the "Stop and Proceed" rule but did not see the preceding train soon enough to stop. A fire was started by electrical arcing. 3 people were killed.[4]

Edgware buffer stop collision[edit]

On 27 July 1946, a Northern line train hit the buffers at Edgware. No passengers were killed; the driver died, but it was shown that he had suffered a heart attack at the controls before the collision. The dead man's handle had failed in its desired effect of stopping the train.[5]

Stratford crash[edit]

Main article: Stratford tube crash

On 8 April 1953 two Central line trains collided in a tunnel section during disruption caused by a signal failure, killing 12 people.

Holland Park and Redbridge fires[edit]

Two train fires occurred on the Central line in 1958 and 1960, due to electrical short circuits in the trains causing arcing. In both cases the trains had to be evacuated in the tunnels and passengers and crew suffered from smoke inhalation. One passenger died in the Holland Park fire on 28 July 1958.[6] There were no fatalities in the Redbridge fire on 11 August 1960.[7]

Neasden collision[edit]

On 23 September 1968 a northbound ballast train passed three signals at danger and collided with the rear of a stationary Bakerloo Line passenger train standing in the platform. The driver of the ballast train died before he could be released, an accompanying inspector and the train's guard were taken to hospital and survived.[8]

Moorgate crash[edit]

Main article: Moorgate tube crash

On 28 February 1975 a southbound Northern City Line train crashed into the tunnel end beyond the platform at Moorgate station. Forty-three people were killed in what was the greatest loss of life on the Underground in peacetime. As the driver was one of the initial 43 dead, the cause of the incident was never conclusively determined, and an accidental death verdict was recorded at the official inquest.

Holborn rail crash[edit]

Main article: Holborn rail crash

On 9 July 1980 a Central line train failed to stop in time after passing a signal at danger and being tripped by a train stop. The train hit another train standing in the westbound platform at Holborn. No serious injuries were caused by the accident. An inquiry concluded that the accident was caused by the motorman of the rear train failing to control his train.

Oxford Circus fire[edit]

Main article: Oxford Circus fire

On 23 November 1984 a fire raged inside Oxford Circus station. It started at 9.50 p.m. in a materials store and was declared extinguished at 3 a.m. the next day. Fourteen people were treated for smoke inhalation. The probable cause of the fire was smoker's materials being pushed through a ventilation grille into the materials store. This ignited rags or paint thinner within the store.

Kilburn Crash[edit]

At Kilburn station on 11 December 1984, a northbound Metropolitan line train incorrectly passed a signal at danger in foggy weather. The driver reset the controls, moved forward, and was killed when the train collided with a stationary train in front.

King's Cross fire[edit]

Main article: King's Cross fire

On 18 November 1987, a large fire broke out in King's Cross St Pancras station. Thirty-one people died, killed by the toxic fumes and extreme heat of the blaze. The fire was the result of a discarded match or cigarette igniting debris, detritus and grease beneath the wooden escalators. As a result of this, the widely ignored smoking ban was more rigorously enforced throughout the system. All of the network's wooden escalators have now been replaced,[9] and other measures have been put in place to help prevent a repeat incident.

Gunnersbury Triangle[edit]

On 24 April 1999, a District line train of London Underground D stock, Eastbound from Richmond derailed soon after leaving Gunnersbury Station, at Gunnersbury Triangle junction points, where the line diverged from the Railtrack route of the North London Line. The trailing car, DM NO 7040 derailed and ended up skewed across the track. No one was hurt and the passengers were soon removed from the lightly loaded train. The cause was believed to have been maintenance shortcomings by Railtrack.[citation needed]

Chancery Lane derailment[edit]

On 25 January 2003, a Central line train of 1992 stock derailed at Chancery Lane, injuring 32 passengers, after a motor became detached from the train. The entire line, and the Waterloo & City line (which also uses 1992 Stock trains), were closed for approximately three months whilst the cause of the failure was determined and appropriate modifications made to the trains.

Hammersmith derailment[edit]

On 17 October 2003 the last carriage of a 6-car eastbound Piccadilly line train of 1973 stock derailed east of Hammersmith tube station. The cause was a broken rail. None of the 70 passengers on board were injured.

Camden Town derailment[edit]

On 19 October 2003 the last carriage of a 6-car Northern line train of 1995 stock derailed on the approach to Camden Town tube station. The derailed car hit a wall and the fifth car was partially derailed. Seven passengers were injured, 6 of whom had minor injuries. The other injury was a broken femur. The cause was found to be in the design of the set of points at locations with specific characteristics.

White City derailment[edit]

On 11 May 2004 the leading bogie of the 7th car of an 8-car Central line train of 1992 stock derailed on a set of points during the approach to White City tube station. None of the 150 passengers on board were injured; a normal train service was restored the next day. The cause was found to be in the design of the set of points at locations with specific characteristics and a switch rail that had been replaced the day before the accident. [10] An episode of The Tube contained a segment on the accident and subsequent recovery process.

Mile End derailment[edit]

On 5 July 2007, two cars of an eight-car westbound Central line train of 1992 stock derailed at 65 km/h between Bethnal Green and Mile End tube stations. 520 passengers were trapped below ground for two hours, until they were escorted from the derailed train by following one another along the tracks to Mile End tube station. Eight people required hospital treatment and a further thirteen were treated at the scene for minor injuries. Most of the injuries were caused while walking along the uneven surface in the tunnel. The Central line was suspended between Liverpool Street and Leytonstone until the end of the following day as a safety investigation was carried out and the derailed train was rerailed. The investigation found that the derailment was caused by a roll of fire-resistant material being blown onto the tracks from its storage place in a connecting passageway between the two tunnels. The blanket had not been adequately secured, since the workers had not realised how strong were the winds blowing through the passage.[11]

Runaway track machine[edit]

In the early hours of 13 August 2010, a broken-down track machine became uncoupled from the locomotive that was towing it, allowing it to roll southwards from Archway station. The runaway train reached a maximum speed of 18 mph and passed through all stops until Warren Street station where an uphill gradient caused it to come to rest.[12][13] On 28 February 2013, London Underground, Tube Lines and the German company Schweerbau were each fined £100,000 at the Old Bailey for Health and Safety Breaches.[14]

Passenger dragged at Holborn station[edit]

At 19:00 hrs on 3 February 2014, a passenger was hospitalised after being dragged along the platform by a departing Piccadilly line train after the end of her scarf was caught in a closing door.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "London Underground racks up record ridership figures". Transport for London. 19 April 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "The parlous state of the London Underground". The Economist. 23 October 2003. Retrieved 5 June 2008. 
  3. ^ Croome; Jackson (2003). Rails Through the Clay. Capital. p. 275. 
  4. ^ "Report on the Collision which occurred on the 31st December 1945, at Northwood on the Metropolitan and Great Central Joint Railway" (PDF). The Railways Archive. Ministry of Transport. 1946. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  5. ^ "Report on the Collision which occurred on 27th July, 1946, at Edgware on the Northern Line of the London Passenger Transport Board" (PDF). The Railways Archive. Ministry of Transport. Retrieved 5 June 2008. 
  6. ^ "Report on the Electrical Fire which occurred on 28th July 1958 between Shepherd's Bush and Holland Park on the Central Line London Transport Railways" (PDF). The Railways Archive. Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  7. ^ "Report on the Electrical Fire which occurred on 11 August 1960 between Redbridge and Gants Hill on the Central Line London Transport Railways" (PDF). The Railways Archive. Ministry of Transport. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  8. ^ Report on the Collision that occurred on 23rd September 1968 at Neasden Station on the Bakerloo Line London Transport Railways
  9. ^
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ "Derailment of a London Underground Central Line train near Mile End station 5 July 2007" (PDF). Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Department for Transport. January 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Runaway train on London Tube's Northern Line". BBC News. 13 August 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  13. ^ Gabbatt, Andrew (13 August 2010). "Runaway tube train prompts London Underground inquiry". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Passenger dragged a short distance by a train at Holborn station". Rail Accident Investigation Branch. 3 June 2014. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014.