E-scooters: Fire on Tube prompts call for London transport ban

Published
Media caption,
Smoke can be seen billowing from the rear of the train. Video from Marcin Rojek

A ban on carrying e-scooters on London's transport network should be enforced after a battery caught fire on the Tube, a union has said.

Passengers had to abandon a service at Parsons Green station in west London on Monday after a scooter caught fire then continued to burn on the platform.

Transport union TSSA said e-scooters posed a "significant threat" to the public and rail staff.

It said TfL should halt the carrying of e-scooters on all its services.

Additionally, an e-scooter being held in lost property caught fire at TfL staff accommodation in Stanmore, north-west London, on 26 October.

TfL said e-scooters were not allowed to be ridden on the transport network but they could be folded and carried on its services.

Lithium-ion batteries, which are often used in e-scooters, are susceptible to failure if the wrong chargers are used, London Fire Brigade [LFB] said.

"We also know many of these incidents involve batteries which have been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards," a LFB spokesman said.

"Batteries can get warm during their use and it is advisable to allow them to cool down before attempting to recharge as they could be more susceptible to failure."

Lorraine Ward from TSSA is calling on TfL to immediately halt the transportation of e-scooters on London services "until more research into these batteries has been carried out".

"Without a doubt the incident at Parsons Green raises very serious concerns. It's becoming all too clear that e-scooters pose a significant threat to the traveling public, our members and all workers at TfL," she said.

Analysis, BBC London transport correspondent Tom Edwards:

Image source, LFB

Transport unions like the TSSA do not throw words like "significant threat" lightly.

These pictures clearly show how serious the situation is when e-scooters batteries malfunction and cause fires like this on public transport.

It could have been much more serious. Enforcing a ban on carrying e-scooters on TfL services would be difficult to implement - who would enforce it? British Transport Police? And would it even be practical?

At the moment private e-scooters are only meant to be used on private land but the rules are widely ignored. This will again increase calls for stricter regulation of them.

It highlights how some new emerging technology can cause a real headache for the authorities when it fails.

National Federation of the Blind UK president Andrew Hodgson said "questions have to be asked" about why the "illegal machines" had ever been allowed on TfL's services.

"They are not safe for riders, pedestrians and now to passengers on public transport," said Mr Hodgson, whose charity campaigns against the use of e-scooters in public places.

"We hope TfL takes immediate action to stop them being allowed on all of its services."

A TfL spokesperson said: "We completely understand how worrying it was for our customers and staff when an e-scooter caught alight on a train.

"Emergency services attended Parsons Green station and the e-scooter was removed at the first opportunity. While incidents like this are very rare, we take safety on the network extremely seriously and are undertaking a full review, which includes liaising with the London Fire Brigade.

"It is forbidden to ride e-scooters at stations or on trains, and failure to comply with this by-law is a criminal offence. E-scooters may currently be carried but must be folded for the entirety of the journey."

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