Tube passenger ‘hysteria’ as train windows smashed to escape ‘smoke-filled’ Northern Line carriage

·3-min read

This is the terrifying moment Tube passengers kick out the windows of a rush hour carriage they thought was “slowly filling up with smoke”.

Terrified Londoners burst out of the tube at Clapham Common at roughly 6pm on Friday.

One brave man had to break the window with a hammer to allow people to kick their way to safety.

Another used his rucksack to smash in a window but caught broken glass in his face as desperate passengers broke out.

British Transport Police confirmed that the panic was sparked by the smell of brake dust from a faulty train “ which can often be confused with burning”.

There have been no injuries reported.


Passengers have complained that TfL staff were nowhere to be seen during the emergency before 500 people were safely evacuated.

Commuter Jake Sharp that the scenes quickly turned into “hysteria” when they found they were stuck on the carriage and could see others fleeing the station.

He told the Standard: “There was no alarm until passengers pressed them on the platform.

“After the train stopped, we saw a passenger from the train opposite running off the platform whilst we were stuck on it.

“The driver was saying nothing - it quickly turned into hysteria. Suddenly people were pulling me out.”

He added: “People were screaming but no staff were there to help anyone. If it wasn’t for the workman with hammers I dread to think what would have happened.”


Another passenger Nick Bonfield, 34, said the train had already been delayed because of a fire alert at Tooting Bec.

He told the Standard: “I didn’t see smoke but it smelled very strongly. It was pungent.

“We pulled into Clapham Common and we could see people getting really concerned.

“The doors didn’t open, it lurched forwards and stopped again without doors opening.

“Then there were three people trying to rip the doors open. Others were shouting out to stay calm, others were smashing the emergency button.

“Half of the people were in full blown panic and the other half were saying ‘calm down it’s fine’.”

He added: “When you are locked on a tube underground it is the last place you want there to be a fire.

“At one point the lights went off on the tube too. That was the last thing we wanted.”

After “around” three minutes doors finally opened and he saw the broken glass on the platform where others had kicked their way to safety.

Mr Bonfield said he will get the tube home after going for drinks by the River Thames “so he doesn’t get a complex”.

A British Transport Police spokesman said: “BTP received a report of a faulty train at Clapham Common station shortly before 6pm this evening, and we are aware of a video showing passengers trying to leave the train.

“The issue is believed to have been caused by brake dust which can often be confused with burning. There were no reports of any injuries and the incident has now been resolved.”

A TfL spokesperson said: “We’re sorry for the distress caused at Clapham Common. The London Fire Brigade attended the station and confirmed there was no fire. We are investigating the details of this incident.”

A London Fire Brigade spokesman added: “Firefighters were called to a report of smoke issuing from a train at Clapham Common Underground Station.

“Crews attended but following investigation, found no sign or evidence of a fire. Investigations are ongoing but the smoke is believed to have been caused by the train’s brakes.

“Around 500 people left the train before firefighters arrived. The Brigade has not received any reports of injuries.”