Dangerous overcrowding and “mass panic” incite health and safety investigation on Southern Rail network

Dangerous overcrowding and “mass panic in crowds” on the Southern Rail network have sparked a health and safety inquiry, the Association of British Commuters (ABC) has announced.

The regulator said it had been “inundated” with complaints, which had peaked during the summer’s strike action.

It has asked the Department for Transport (DfT) if these risks “warranted termination of the franchise”.

Meanwhile, Southern Rail said its priority was the safety of passengers.

A spokesperson said the train line had deployed additional staff and queuing systems at the busiest stations on strike days “to manage passenger numbers”.

“When stations do get busy, such as in times of disruption, our staff’s priority is to ensure our passengers can get on and off trains safely – which sometimes necessitates holding passengers back from the platform.”

But ABC said it had spoken to the DfT asking whether it had conducted any risk analysis in the face of further strikes.

It cited incidents including “violence at Brighton station, dangerous overcrowding and mass panic in crowds, mass rushes along overcrowded platforms to board trains, and a child left abandoned on a platform”.

It added that there had been reports of “at least two” incidents of trains going through planned station stops without stopping.

The DfT said improving rail services for passengers was a priority.

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