Tube fire anniversary safety fears

Bicester Advertiser: The Kings Cross fire is thought to have been caused by a dropped match The Kings Cross fire is thought to have been caused by a dropped match

The 25th anniversary of a devastating Tube station fire will be marked on Sunday by a transport union concerned about current Underground safety.

Thirty-one people died when a fire on an escalator ripped through part of King's Cross Tube station in London on the evening of November 18 1987.

The fire was thought to have been caused by a dropped match and the devastation, as well as the subsequent public inquiry, led to tighter safety standards on London Underground.

But the RMT union believes that safety remains an issue and the union representatives will be outside King's Cross station on Sunday morning.

The RMT will gather to commemorate the fire and "to highlight the continued need for a fully-staffed and safe Tube network".

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "Due to a culture of complacency and systemic failure, 31 people lost their lives at King's Cross. We are marking the event with a public demonstration to send out the message that never again must the London Underground be dragged back to the same catalogue of complacency and failures which led us to King's Cross."

He called on London mayor Boris Johnson "to end once and for all the threatened cuts to station and platform staffing levels, the cuts to maintenance schedules and the persistent threat to bring in driverless trains".

More than 100 people were taken to hospital after the King's Cross fire. One of those killed was firemen Colin Townsley. He was awarded, posthumously, a certificate of commendation for his bravery, as were five other firemen who survived.

Smoking was immediately banned on all parts of the Tube after the fire and wooden escalators were replaced.

For many years, the identity of one of the 31 victims of the disaster remained a mystery. But, finally, in January 2004, the 31st victim was named as 72-year-old homeless Scotsman Alexander Fallon.

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