Passengers on the Elizabeth Line urinated and defecated on the train floor amid a three-hour delay that left hundreds of stranded commuters plunged into total darkness after the power went out.
The issue started around 6pm, during rush hour, after damage to overhead electric cables disrupted services around Paddington. Hundreds of people on the Elizabeth Line between Acton and Paddington reported being left on cold, dark trains with little information provided as to how long the delay would last.
The hours-long wait for help meant many people were left with full bladders on a service that has no toilets - an issue that was raised when the line was being built.
One passenger said the train driver created an unofficial toilet, the train tracks, and people were lining up to go outside to urinate. In his video posted to X by a friend, the passenger said that despite that option, people did use the seats to urinate: “The rules are you have to go to the driver, and then he’ll let you out on the tracks, and you take a p*** like hooligans.”
In 2019, a TFL spokesperson said adding toilets would displace 600 passengers and that toilets would be available at some train stations.
One person posted a now-deleted photo to social media, which they claimed was the aftermath of someone peeing in a corner. Another wrote on social media: "...we cannot breathe properly, no lights and someone urinating and excreting their faeces under the seats between where the 4 seaters located!"
After the power went out, announcements from the driver could not longer be broadcast - leaving commuters with little idea as to how long the delay would last.
One passenger posted a video saying that commuters had "gone rogue" and were walking around outside on the train tracks. Another passenger said she had her newborn baby with her and missed their flight due to the delay; posting a video to social media that features her crying baby. In the video, you can also see another person in the distance who is standing while holding their toddler.
Among those stuck during the chaos were musician James Blunt and presenter Rachel Riley, who posted a selfie on X, formerly known as Twitter, celebrating her freedom once she finally left the train. She said: “Nearly 4 hours after we got on, we’re getting off the Elizabeth line, woohoo!”
Blunt posted a news story about the delays to X and wrote: “Been stuck somewhere outside Paddington for close to 4 hours now. Out of peanuts and wine. Can someone please contact @Dominos_UK. This is an emergency.”
On the next day, passengers found that they were still charged for their journeys. One X user posted: “Got home at 1am … the WORST evening . & then for TFL to still take £12.50 out my account at 3am is cheeky.” According to the TFL website, people can apply for a refund if a delay lasts longer than 15 minutes and on some occasions, people are refunded automatically within 48 hours.
In a statement, Network Rail said that damaged overhead cables in Ladbroke Grove, West London, caused the power outage and that passengers could expect limited service on the Elizabeth Line on Friday.
TFL posted a statement to X apologising for the delays. They said: "We’re sorry that the damage caused to Network Rail’s overhead power lines by another rail operator’s train has caused significant disruption to our Elizabeth line customers as well as all train operators out of London Paddington.
"We worked to get customers off of stranded trains as quickly as possible and to provide any support needed."
We’re sorry that the damage caused to Network Rail’s overhead power lines by another rail operator’s train has caused significant disruption to our Elizabeth line customers as well as all train operators out of London Paddington. We worked to get customers off of stranded trains…
— TfL (@TfL) December 8, 2023