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BBC Scotland's Alan Mackay reports
"ScotRail had to cancel 10 services"
 real 56k

Monday, 5 March, 2001, 20:43 GMT
ScotRail attacked over 'fire' panic
ScotRail train leaving station
Steam filled one of the carriages
ScotRail has been criticised over safety procedures after passengers panicked during a suspected fire emergency on an Edinburgh to Glasgow train.

There was confusion on the two-carriage train after a passenger detected what appeared to be smoke coming from under a seat.

One witness said that ScotRail staff did not appear to know what to do, while passengers were forced to make their own way off the train.

ScotRail's evacuation procedures have been described as "abominable".

The whole thing was badly organised from the start and certainly after events last week there was apprehension that the situation was worse than it actually was

Robin Hodge, one of the passengers
The company said it would interview the crew and passengers to establish exactly what happened.

The incident on the 1100 service between Edinburgh and Glasgow happened as the train travelled between Falkirk and Croy.

The fire brigade was called after a faulty compressor leaked coolant onto the heating system, causing steam to appear through vents in one of the carriages.

One passenger said people had tried to smash glass in one of the doors to get out of the train on the side furthest away from the other track but had failed.

Robin Hodge, who was on a business trip from Edinburgh to Glasgow, said there confusion on the train.

Queen Street Station, Glasgow
The train was on its way to Queen Street Station, Glasgow
He said: "Somebody pulled the emergency cord and the train came to a stop.

"There was an announcement that there was a fire on the train and someone came along with a fire extinguisher but it wasn't a fire."

Mr Hodge said there was apparent confusion even before the already-delayed train departed.

"The whole thing was badly organised from the start and certainly after events last week there was apprehension that the situation was worse than it actually was.

"They should have been much better organised."

Wrong channel

One passenger who works in health and safety said the evacuation procedures were "abominable".

It is thought that the conductress used the wrong channel to tell the driver about the fire.

The incident led to the cancellation of 10 ScotRail services.

The company's head of safety, Raymond Johnstone, said he wanted to know why the on-train emergency procedures did not work.

"We will certainly be seeking the views of our customers in relation to the investigation that we will be holding into this particular incident," he said.

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See also:

04 Jan 01 | Scotland
Services getting back on track
03 Jan 01 | Scotland
A day of train chaos
18 Dec 00 | Scotland
Vandalism threat to rail safety
28 Nov 00 | Scotland
Train emergency row erupts
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