Escalator Goes Wrong At Cutty Sark DLR, Nightmares Ensue


When Londonist was a nipper, no more than knee-high to a Trafalgar Square pigeon, we remember being psychologically scarred by the public safety information film below. So the news that an escalator malfunctioned at Cutty Sark DLR on Tuesday evening is not exactly welcome.

Passengers told the BBC how the up escalator suddenly started travelling in reverse and at a faster speed than usual. Another commuter told the News Shopper how not even pressing the emergency stop button worked. In a horrible reflection of that advert, Debra Sainsbury told how her foot was caught badly enough for the machinery to rip one of her shoes, though nobody was injured enough to need medical attention.

We didn’t even know it was possible for escalators to arbitrarily change direction. Transport for London’s described the incident as a “mechanical fault”, which isn’t terribly reassuring. Assembly Member Len Duvall has written to the Mayor asking for an investigation and expressing concern that passengers had difficulty finding a member of staff to deal with the situation. Our woman on the scene confirms that, as of this morning, the escalators at the station are all out of service.

Photo by Jonathan Tweed from the Londonist Flickr pool

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  • BethPH

    I remember that advert! It terrified me – for years when I was a kid I had a horror of my feet being stuck under the end of the escalator.

    • Rachel Holdsworth

      I avoided escalators for years, deliberately seeking out lifts and stairs. Only really got over it when I moved to London because you can’t really avoid them on the tube.

  • Dave H

    A quote from the BBC article: “My foot was stuck in the escalator and my toes are now bent out of shape.”

    And yet, no-one needed medical attention? Stoic types, these DLR travellers.

    • n3dst4

      Stoic, or some kind of cyborg? Most people’s bones don’t bend. Or if they do, you’d describe them as “broken”.

  • Ruth Hargreaves

    I’ve never seen that advert before – it’s terrifying! Complete with horror film-type suspense, yikes.

  • Moira Griffith

    Don’t want to make light of this article
    But was the Jamaican Bobsled team song playing?
    To the right,to the left?

  • sasseymills

    what I don’t understand (on reading other descriptions of what happened) is why didn’t they just turn around in the new direction of travel and step off?

  • Adam

    I was one of the commuters caught out by this escalator and believe that the problem was known about for quite a while before anyone actually did anything about it. I tried reporting it to one of the members of staff on duty outside the station and his response was “yeah – someone else mentioned that earlier on” and then ignoring me. I ended up calling tfl customer services.

    To clarify – the escalator did NOT change direction. It went into FREEFALL. The combined weight of our group of passengers suddenly caused us to all go ‘rushing’ back downwards (think of it as going down a ski slopes with no ability to stop yourself) as if the break had suddenly been released on the escalator. To be honest it was amazing no-one waa seriously injured.

    No doubt there will be a cover up but I suspect it’s related to the maintenance work on the escalator next to it.

    • Stella

      trouble with these comments thingies is that often the best comment is at the bottom.. I think your comment should be included in the article as now the article makes complete sense! And, yes, it does sound terrifying!

      • Rachel Holdsworth

        Very good point – Disqus has recently added an option to ‘feature’ a comment, so that’s what I’ve now done!