You might have noticed recently that there’s been an increase in signs reminding people how to use Transport for London (TfL) escalators by holding onto the handrail and standing on the right.

However, what is possibly the largest sign reminding people to hold onto the handrail has recently appeared in Canary Wharf’s Elizabeth line station, and fills the width of two escalators.

They’re large.

Before people harumph about the nanny state and ‘elf and safety gorn mad, there’s a reason for the signs.

After all, take a trip on the tube, and you’ll be sure to see someone being a bit daft at least once a day, if not more often. Sadly, there are accidents on the escalators.

Not just people falling down because they decided to carry all their luggage instead of using a lift — there are even sometimes people in wheelchairs using the escalator, which, while an admirable demonstration of arm strength to hold onto the handrail is quite alarming when you’re the person standing behind them.

Most accidents usually tend to involve people falling over, maybe after an evening with Bacchus.

However, there’s also the risk of entrapment at the end of the escalator when people get off. A recent contract offer from TfL to find ways of reducing entrapment says that whilst the risk of this entrapment is very low (roughly 0.04 times per million passengers since the start of 2022), the potential harm to customers can be severe.

That’s about 130 people in 2022 injured due to entrapment on an escalator — out of about 1,089 total escalator injuries in 2022.

Also, over three-quarters of people who are hurt by entrapment tend to be children, which TfL suspects is because escalators are designed for adults and can’t easily be adapted for children.

So, they’re looking at a range of options to see if it’s possible to reduce entrapment, acknowledging that there won’t be a single one-fits-all solution and that the rarity of accidents makes understanding how to prevent them a more challenging task to undertake.

And while the signs about carrying pets on the escalators always raise a smile, the sound of a dog getting its nail caught in the teeth of an escalator is not one you want to hear.


Be the first to know what's on in London, and the latest news published on ianVisits.

You can unsubscribe at any time from my weekly emails.

Tagged with:

This website has been running now for over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, it doesn't cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It's very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether it's a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what you read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

  1. Henry says:

    Think the main point about health and safety gone mad is that people can sue tfl for any damages if they are aware of the dangers. Which is why it’s bonkers that we have to do big signs like these. If the person was an idiot they could still complain. It is bonkers that we have to have the signage in the first place. We are relying on the govt to make them think for us.

    • ianVisits says:

      People can sue – but they can only win if TfL is shown to have been negligent in their actions, and you’d have a heck of a job arguing that providing escalators is a negligent activity.

  2. Martin says:

    Insert banker joke here

  3. Brian Buterworth says:

    “while an admirable demonstration of arm strength to hold onto the handrail is quite alarming when you’re the person standing behind them.”

    I would have thought that standing in front of them would be the issue. It was when a person accidentally launched a suitcase down the escalators at Victoria station…

    • Graham says:

      When going up, you wouldn’t want to be behind. When going down, you wouldn’t want to be in front.

  4. Keith says:

    On a related note I find the escalators that have continuous advertising screens going along both sides to be very disorientating. As the images on the screen aren’t adjusted for the angle you can find yourself wanting to lean forward, so that the screens become horizontal.

    I much prefer the advertising screens which are a series of portrait screens. I don’t experience the same disorienting feeling when on those escalators. Maybe I’m in a minority.

    • Simona says:

      You’re not alone! The increase in disorientating visual distractions around escalators seems slightly at odds with TfL’s apparent desire for people not to lose their balance and fall.

    • Chris Rogers says:

      Given 90% of the content is TfL advertising itself, I don’t know why they bothered

  5. SteveP says:

    I was just behind a woman at the top of a Paddington escalator to the Bakerloo line when she lost control of her hard-sided suitcase. It shot down at great speed and could easily have injured anyone below, but fortunately there was no one else in front. And it didn’t even pop open

  6. Kumquat says:

    Back in the 90s I had a mate in a wheelchair who used to go on escalator. He would tell the staff at the barriers not to worry, he would use the crutches on the back of the chair and the person with him would hold the wheelchair. But in fact he’d just roll straight on.

    @Brian Buterworth – if you’re going up, then being behind the wheelchair user is the scary place!

    He never got hurt on the Tube to my knowledge, but when lifts became available we encouraged him to use them – he’d speed faster than any of us along pavements. We had to point out that the rest of us didn’t have people jump out the way if we charged ahead at high speed.

    I fell down the long escalator at Green Park once – totally sober but forgot I was in heels after a job interview, tired, and it was a wet slippery day. Went down about 12 steps before a chap broke my fall. Had a nasty gash on my knee and some bruises, but that was all.

    @Brian Buterworh

  7. AlexL says:

    The risk of contacting some disgusting disease from touching the handrail must be at least a thousand times higher than the risk of an escalator fall or entrapment. I have had all manner of nasty illnesses which I’m certain I have contracted on public transport. I have never fallen off an escalator despite riding it in inebriated state quite often.

  8. Jeanette says:

    When using an escalator, up or down, I always leave a gap of at least two steps between myself & the person in front of me. I feel it gives me a bit of time to avoid bumping into them if they’re a bit slow in stepping off.

  9. DJinLDN says:

    Personally I have suffered more routine pain while seated in a crowded train from the idiocies of other passengers, eg, those standing with backpacks who have no concept of their overall body size, turn suddenly and lash you in the face with their straps… Likewise those who blithely stand in tight crowds without hanging on to a strap or pole so that as the train lurches so do their feet as they stamp on your own feet. And that really hurts.

    • Ms Terry Jones says:

      I had a very tall heavy man land in my lap. I couldn’t breathe and turned my face away but he bent my glasses out of shape. When he was finally able to stand up he just muttered sorry and resumed standing with his back to me. More from embarrassment than rudeness, perhaps.
      Then there was the woman who flung her exceedingly long scarf behind her. The fringe hit my eye and almost knocked my contact lens out. The joys of tube travel.

  10. Amber says:

    Also… what is very common is people stepping off the escalator who then stop dead in front of you. I am waiting for the day I see a pile up of victims scattered like skittles who cannot avoid crashing into the gormless dreamer.

    • Chris Rogers says:

      This!! The same people who walk down/up and then stop dead two steps BEFORE getting off

  11. John Usher says:

    I quite like the escalators in John Lewis in Oxford Street which have long, flat ‘Run In’ and ‘Run Out’ sections (like travelators) at each end which I find easier to negotiate.

    I’ve seen pictures of escalators with flat sections in the middle.

    It should also be possible to design the landings of the escalators to ‘funnel’ people in on the approach and to ‘fan’ people out at the exits to avoid bunching

    Space is at a premium on the Underground, and yes, ‘There is no such thing as a Free Lunch’, so someone would have to fund it, but there are design elements which could be adopted to improve accessibility and safety for new installations, retrofits and upgrades, rather than the Utilitarian approach we seem to have.

    The only current change I am aware of is energy efficiency – e.g. turning some escalators off in the Off-Peak and variable speed, based on the number of people using them at any given time, or slow when no-one is on them. Useful but is that the priority?

    Remember the Kings Cross fire – design for safety and accessibility.

  12. Mike Woolnough says:

    It should be remembered that the handrail doesn’t always run at the same speed as the escalator and can accidentally (or deliberately) be slowed down quite markedly. Not so bad if you’re going down, but can be rather more serious if you’re going up!

  13. Old on the inside says:

    I understand why we stand on one side & let others pass on the other (although why it is opposite sides to a road baffles me), but as somebody that is right-handed & uses a walking stick, you have a choice: Either I stand on the left & support myself properly (while holding on), or I stand on the right & hold on while hoping my weaker left arm doesn’t give out & I go tumbling back down into all those behind me. 😉

    • ianVisits says:

      Whenever I am so heavy laden that I can’t hold on with my right hand, I just turn 90 degrees and hold on with my left hand. Simples.

  14. Ed Humphreys says:

    With the modern crazy of fitness and TFL wanting more people to cycle for the environment and fitness; perhaps ecalators should be removed and rock climbing slops installed. Just image the fun of watching passengers decending and assending a rock face, to get to their train.

  15. Muriel Pearson says:

    I was involved in an accident on the escalator leading from the underground to Kings Cross station yesterday. An elderly couple fell backwards on top of me so I was trapped under them, suitcases, bags with my face pressed hard on the metal steps. Very achy and bruised today. Many people came to our rescue once the emergency button was pressed. Thank God the elderly couple was ok. Didn’t sleep well last night though – in pain and kept reliving the accident.
    Please take heed and hold on tight to the handrail. Safe journey.

  16. downsouth says:

    TfL spent millions rebuilding Victoria but if everyone with luggage used the lifts it would grind to a halt. Queuing for lifts can easily add 15 minutes to a journey; there simply aren’t enough and they are too slow. I suppose at least there are lifts unlike most other stations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Home >> News >> Transport News