Christmas rail disruption: Finsbury Park was 'unsuitable'

Passengers waiting at Finsbury Park Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Finsbury Park Station had to be closed due to overcrowding

Rail passengers were switched to an "entirely unsuitable" station when King's Cross could not open because of overrunning engineering works, a Network Rail chief has admitted.

Robin Gisby told MPs there was no alternative to sending trains to Finsbury Park, on 27 December.

This caused the station to be so crowded passengers could not get off trains and the station had to shut.

But Mr Gisby said he would endorse to make the same decision again.

Speaking to the House of Commons Transport Committee, Mr Gisby said: "Finsbury Park was entirely unsuitable compared with King's Cross but there was nothing else we could do.

"Any other decision would have caused even more discomfort for passengers."

'Not enough done'

A Network Rail report, published earlier this week, revealed poor planning, equipment failures and communication breakdowns all contributed to the overruns.

Physical work near Paddington was completed on time but safety validation work that should have taken two hours took 10 hours, the report said.

When work near King's Cross overran, the trains were switched to start and finish at Finsbury Park, but "not enough was done" to manage passenger flow at the station.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne told the committee he thought the overrun at King's Cross could have been declared earlier and communication about the use of platforms at Finsbury Park could have been improved.

Another inquiry into the overruns has been announced by rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group. This will examine the possibility of moving major engineering projects away from the Christmas period.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has already launched its own inquiry.

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