Passengers on board a London Overground train had to intervene as a fight broke out this morning at Hackney Downs on a service heading to Liverpool Street.
Jonathan Dean, who was traveling on the train and is a Sunday Times journalist, witnessed the incident, tweeting:
@LDNOverground Very violent man on train at Hackney Downs punching woman restrained by passengers for over 5 minutes. Where were staff?
— Jonathan Dean (@JonathanDean_) January 25, 2016
Other eyewitnesses alleged that London Overground staff did not become involved until the train arrived at Hackney Downs.
Regular commuter Jessica Browne witnessed the incident. She told Eastlondonlines: “It all happened right by me, I just saw this man attacking this woman, punching her in the head and ragging her clothes. The men around tried to restrain him, one guy was shouting at him ‘Leave her alone! Stop what you’re doing’, so he turned on the guy and smashed his head into the train doors. I ran past him and got off the train because I thought I was going to be next.”
She continued: “Eventually the train staff came and said the police have been called. Then he tries going for them, that’s when I walked away and left the station. He looked like a mad man, I just wanted to get away from him.”
Passengers have criticised London Overground over the speed of its response. Browne said: “It took staff at least 6-7 minutes to come to the train while passengers were left to deal with the situation.”
TfL has previously been accused of putting passenger and staff safety at risk on the Underground network by reducing the number of staff at stations. Staffing levels have been an area of contention in negotiations over proposed 24-hour tube services.
British Transport Police confirmed they had attended the incident. A spokesman told Eastlondonlines: “Our officers were alerted to a report of an altercation on board a train at Hackney Downs station. The call came into police at 9.35am on Monday, 25 January. BTP officers alongside colleagues from Metropolitan Police Service attended and spoke to a man regarding the incident.”
If you have any information regarding this incident, you can contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016, quoting reference 120 of 25/01/16.