Trains packed as people rush to leave London

There was an immediate rush to get out of London after Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement that London was going into Tier 4 and that people should not leave to go to other areas.

On Saturday night (19 December) St Pancras station was crammed with people trying to get onto trains going north and those that did manage to get aboard found themselves on packed trains, in their determination to get home for Christmas before the Tier 4 restrictions came into force at midnight.

Image above: Harriet Klugson video of St Pancras station on Saturday night

Government has created “a very predictable stampede”

Harriet Klugson was one of those trying to get home. She posted on Twitter:

‘Last train out of Saigon. Queue at St Pancras as we wait to board the Leeds bound train. As expected, train is crammed.

‘Announcement on tannoy says social distancing “will not be possible” due to volume and to get off if you are not comfortable with that. Everyone of course has suitcases.

‘People have tried to secure social distancing by placing on seats but being asked to remove them by other passengers as the train is so full.

‘To make matters worse, we’ve been told this train will be taken out of service at Derby. We will all get off and board a new train, no doubt mixing the virus amongst ourselves as we reorganise with new seat partners.

‘Every person on this train including myself has made what is probably a very silly and irresponsible decision to travel albeit within the law. But that’s what people were always going to do to be together at Christmas. My mother lives alone and there’s no way I could not be with her at Christmas. Other will give similar reasons. What’s at fault is the handling of this by Gov – announce a midnight London lockdown at 4.00pm, obviously everyone will scramble to leave.

‘Another thing to add here – the train companies have dropped the ball. When I made my travel plans I did so assuming there would be strict limits on the number of tickets available to ensure social distancing. It was only when the queues formed at the barriers it became clear that too many tickets had been sold. The risk here is in the getting from point A to B. Of course we could have all turned around and gone home when we realised what the train companies had done, and clearly we didn’t so must take personal responsibility there.

‘Having taken a test, I did not have Covid when I boarded the train. I follow all lockdown rules and stayed indoors since last Friday in preparation for going home in the five-day window. The problem is that in taking the window away with such short notice, Gov has created a very predictable stampede of people rushing to get out before the midnight deadline.

‘It’s this that created crowds of people which increases the risk of virus transmission on the train. All these people may have been acting completely legally (I am, as I am my mother’s Support bubble) but the usual lack of foresight by Gov has created these high risk conditions’.

It was the same story at other London stations. The Press Association reported that by 7.00pm on Saturday evening, there were no spaces on trains available online from several London stations including Paddington, Kings Cross and Euston.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: London goes into Tier 4

See also: A critically important Covid message from Kelly O’Neill, Director of Public Health at LB Hounslow

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