Saturday, April 26, 2008

Oi wei... so far for Londonistan's disaster preparedness

Much has been made of Londonistan's disaster preparedness in the aftermath of the tube and bus bombing a few years back. Well, may I say that I am a tad bit skeptical. Two days ago, on my way back from the local clubs I rushed - together with many many others - close to midnight into the tube station at Tottenham Court road. Something seemingly was wrong with their announcement system as messages continued in a loop (like station manager, report to XYZ). However, eventually the message changed to something like 'this is an emergency, please vacate the station immediately'. I got to be honest, I heard it on the top of the escalators and headed down anyway -together with a few hundred others. Eventually, on the bottom of the escalators my friend and I decided to do a U-turn and leave the station. Station staff told me that there would be no further trains that night due to the 'emergency'. They were quite cheerful about it, and in no particular rush to clear the station of hundreds if not thousands of people meandering around aimlessly in the station. Indeed, while we made eventually our way up the escalators again to catch the nightbus, people still rushed down the escalators, despite the continuing emergency announcements. Surprisingly, nobody bothered switching the downwards escalators off either.

Guess, if this had been a real emergency, this would have ended in a huge tragedy, mostly because people did not bother responding to the emergency announcement at all. When I say people, I mean both passengers as well as station staff.

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