Hundreds of thousands of commuters experienced major disruption during rush hour on Monday morning after passengers evacuated themselves from a train in London and spilled on to the track because they feared a fellow passenger was acting erratically.
The incident, which took place at about 8.30am just outside Wimbledon station on a South Western Railway train running from Shepperton to Waterloo, forced Network Rail to switch off power in the area, causing long delays.
Ian O’Sullivan, 42, who was in the same carriage as the passenger, said a man with a rucksack began reading what appeared to be extracts from the Old Testament, when the train stopped at a red light outside the south-west London rail station.
“He was quite well spoken and calm,” he said. “He said: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to talk to you about something and that something is the word of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He’s here to heal your sins. The Bible tells you that homosexuality is a sin and sex before marriage is a sin. You need to repent’.”
Other passengers said the man referred to “doomsday” and the afterlife.
O’Sullivan, a marketing consultant, said he did not find the man threatening, but people started pushing and shoving, with another passenger warning the man that he was scaring people.
“It suddenly became a Chinese whisper and [there was] panic,” he said. “It was quite a full train, but the area around him was suddenly quite empty.”
Some people prised open the doors and went on to the tracks.
O’Sullivan said the train’s guard came over the public address system asking people what they were doing on the tracks and warning them that they could die if they touched a rail.
“We could hear a woman [outside] saying there’s a man and he’s going to kill everybody,” he said. “But everybody in the carriage said he never said that.”
He said the guard came to the carriage, spoke to the now “sheepish” man and searched his bag, but found only a water flask and books.
SOURCE: Haroon Siddique