BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Wednesday, 19 July, 2000, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Eyewitness: Commuter chaos
Library pic of Tube
By BBC News Online's Chris Summers

Commuters travelling into the capital were thrown into complete chaos by the security alert in west London, and I was one of them.

Ealing Broadway station lies on the main line from Reading into London Paddington and is a key "throttle point".

I left home at 0700 BST, walked to the station and boarded a train heading into London. There was no warning of the forthcoming travel nightmare.

When we got to Hayes & Harlington station, I wondered why the train had stopped for longer than was necessary.

Over the tannoy came the answer: "There has been a security alert at Ealing Broadway. A suspect package has been found on the line between here and Ealing."

Shortly before 0800 BST the announcer said the service was being cancelled altogether.

Scant information

About 200 people dutifully disembarked and waited for more news.

There was scant information to go on but by 0830 it had become clear that there were to be no eastbound trains for some considerable time.

Several of us boarded a bus and got as far as Ealing Hospital, where I had to switch to another bus. By now it was 0930.

The driver crawled along Uxbridge Road which was even more congested than usual.

Eventually I got out and walked half a mile to Ealing Broadway.

Then the penny dropped...Ealing Broadway station itself was closed!

It was 1020 BST and hundreds of people were milling around outside the station or queuing up at bus stops hoping to get closer to their destinations.

The sun beat down and tempers were fraying.

The hard-pressed Thames Trains and London Underground staff tried to find alternative routes to work for the crowds of commuters.

"You could walk to Acton Town, but I think they may close that soon for safety reasons.

Good news for cabbies

"You could get a bus to Greenford, but I'm not sure if that station is open..."

Eventually, I abandoned public transport and rang for a taxi.

The chaos was good news for cabbies, who were coining it in, but even they were getting hassled.

"It's taken me ages to get here. Everywhere's blocked," said my driver when he turned up at 1105.

We headed towards Shepherd's Bush but got stuck in more traffic close to Noel Road in West Acton, which police had closed.

The cabbie took a short cut and we got onto the Westway and zipped into White City.

By 1130 BST I was at my desk - and discovered a controlled explosion had been carried out - but no doubt hundreds of other commuters were still wending their way into work.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

19 Jul 00 | UK
Device found on tube line
02 Jun 00 | UK
Police hunt bridge bombers
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories