January 2013 archive collections

Every week we take a look back through our history archives at stories and events in our rich history of policing the railways. These stories were first compiled in January 2013.

2003 – Chancery Lane derailment

On 25 January 2003 a London Underground Central Line train carrying around 800 passengers derailed at Chancery Lane station when a motor detached from underneath one of the carriages.

Superintendent Phil Trendall was one of the officers on scene within minutes of the incident.

"At the time I was responsible for responding to major incidents. I had just completed a civil service placement planning for large-scale disasters in the aftermath of 9/11.

"The tunnel section of the Underground has very little clearance, so to see a train that had derailed and bounced against the tunnel walls and ceiling was disconcerting to say the least."

While incidents like these are extremely rare, our officers have to be trained and prepared to help casualties and work with train staff and emergency services.

"Ever since the King’s Cross Fire in 1987, officers will attend reports of smoke and fire on the Underground wherever possible, to ensure that we get an assessment from the scene in the quickest possible time.Chancery Lane derailment

"The first responding officers had dealt with the usual confusion that comes with these incidents. My priority was to build the relationship with other responders and with the industry. Underground staff were most impressive and the ambulance and fire service had swung into action in that well-practiced way that has served the public so well over the years."

As the incident occurred at a time when the country was on a high alert over possible terrorist attacks, emergency services had already prepared for worst-case scenarios.

"I was initially called to deal with the media but later took on the incident officer role. The key concern from a media perspective was the fear that this could have been a terrorist attack. 

"It is easy to forget just how worried we were at this time that the network would be attacked by terrorists. I spent a considerable period on the telephone reassuring various departments and agencies that we were content that this was not an attack."

Ian Johnston, who was Chief Constable at the time, praised the 'textbook' response in our staff newsletter: "The response by police and support staff from across London was quite tremendous. I'm proud to pay tribute to all staff who reacted so swiftly and professionally."

Superintendent Trendall commented: "As always our officers and staff responded in a way that was positive and made a difference. An experienced CID officer was soon on scene and helped to correctly identify that this was an operating matter rather than gross negligence or crime.”

In total 32 passengers were injured in the derailment. The line reopened in April that year after extensive safety checks.


2002 – Attack at Finsbury Park station

In January 2002 our staff newsletter reported the incredible story of Inspector Michael "Dan" Tanner's attempted murder at Finsbury Park station only weeks earlier.

British Transport Police History Group described the aftermath:

A struggle ensued and Inspector Tanner was stabbed in the chest and right arm. Using his baton, he continued to fight back while terrified members of the public fled.

Bleeding heavily and gasping for breath, Inspector Tanner managed to keep the man's attention but stayed just out of his reach. Metropolitan Police officers arrived and managed to subdue the man with shields. Two of them were also stabbed. The man had escaped from a secure unit and had a history of violence towards police. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Inspector Tanner spent three days in hospital and had to take nine months off work. He was commended by the trial judge and was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal in the 2005 New Year’s Honours.


1863 – 150 years of the London Underground

On 9 and 10 January 2013 Transport for London marked the first journeys of the London Underground 150 years earlier. The rich history of the world's oldest underground network includes many examples of policing in a unique environment, and police records stretch back to the Tube's early origins in the 1860s.

Today hundreds of police officers and staff are responsible for the safety and security of the 270 stations and Docklands Light Railway network that makes up our London Underground area.

Find out a full history on policing through the London Underground's 150 years.