Elizabeth Line passenger groped on train during four-hour blackout as police arrest suspect

8 December 2023, 14:07 | Updated: 8 December 2023, 15:18

Police  arrested a person for 'sexual touching' during the blackout on Thursday.
Police arrested a person for 'sexual touching' during the blackout on Thursday. Picture: X

By Jenny Medlicott

A passenger caught in the four-hour blackout on the Elizabeth Line was allegedly groped during the chaos, police have said.

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Hundreds of passengers were left in the dark and cold for hours as Elizabeth Line, Great Western Railway and Heathrow Express service going to and from the west London station on Thursday evening.

Police later told those on board that there had been a ‘few incidents’ during the gruelling wait, including one person being arrested on suspicion of sexual touching.

The officer also said that the process of getting passengers off the train had been delayed “because someone decided that they wanted to touch someone up”.

Two people were also reportedly injured during the blackout, according to the MailOnline.

In a video shared on X, an officer tells those on board: “We haven’t just left you, I appreciate that’s… unfortunately we’ve had a few incidents. We’ve had one arrest for sexual touching and things like that.

“So things have taken longer than possibly what they should have done because someone decided that they wanted to touch someone up.”

The video was accompanied by the caption: “Stuck on an Elizabeth line train for three hours, we were promised 'buses and taxis’. All seemed like official protocol.

“After finally being let out, turned out there was no transport provided and we were stranded alone. Quite the mess. Also told of arrests for 'sexual touching'."

British Transport Police said in a statement: "While responding to the incident at Paddington station on 7 December officers on scene were made aware of reports of a sexual assault. The assault was reported to have taken place on the Elizabeth Line at around 8.30pm. A man was arrested and later released.

"Enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident."

Read more: 'Who was in charge?' Fury at Elizabeth Line chaos that saw thousands stranded before 'smashing out of carriages'

Read more: Rachel Riley and James Blunt among Elizabeth Line passengers stuck for hours after electrical cables damaged

Passengers were told they would be evacuated to the nearby North Police Depot.

Celebrities Rachel Riley and James Blunt were among those caught up in the disruption.

Even the boss of Network Rail, which runs the railway network, was stranded. Some commuters were stuck for as long as four hours in plummeting temperatures.

The problem stemmed from damage to the electrical cables above the lines in Ladbroke Grove.

A London Ambulance spokesman said: “We were called at 7:38pm yesterday to reports of a large number of passengers delayed on trains between Paddington and Ladbroke Grove, west London.

“We sent a number of resources to the scene including an ambulance crew, a paramedic in a fast response car, an incident response officer and members of our Hazardous Area Response Team.

“We treated two patients for minor injuries and discharged them at the scene.”

Some passengers had to force their way out of the train doors and get onto the tracks, reportedly "smashing" out.

Network Rail boss Andrew Haines, who was on the 6.30pm service from Paddington to Cardiff, had to take charge on his train to plead with people not to smash their way out.

He urged them to wait for the train to be brought back to Paddington - assuming they could find the crew given the strikes.

The train's battery, which powered the heating and light, eventually ran out, plunging them into 90 minutes of darkness before they were evacuated.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: "We are so sorry for the difficult journeys passengers endured on our railway last night and we will be investigating how and why it happened.

"The knock-on effects from last night mean operators will not be able to run a full service from Paddington today and passengers should check before they travel."Repairs are ongoing and we hope to have the railway fully open by the weekend."

TfL said: "We’re sorry that the damage caused to Network Rail’s overhead power lines by another rail operator’s train has caused significant disruption to our Elizabeth line customers as well as all train operators out of London Paddington. We worked to get customers off of stranded trains as quickly as possible and to provide any support needed.

"Network Rail are continuing to urgently to repair the power lines and we’d encourage all customers to check before they travel while they do this."