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5 March 2019, 16:33 | Updated: 5 March 2019, 16:35
Greater Anglia is asking passengers to only activate the emergency cord in a genuine emergency following a spate of malicious acts which delayed trains by nearly three days in total last year.
In 2018, the alarm was activated maliciously 219 times, causing delays of more than 4100 minutes – the equivalent to almost three days.
So far this year, the emergency alarm has been activated more than 20 times. A majority of these have been hoaxes or non-emergencies.
The company is cracking down on this behaviour and is warning people who do it that they will be caught and prosecuted.
When the emergency cord is pulled, the train’s brakes are automatically applied, and the driver must walk through the train to reset it before the train can move again.
This delays the train and has a knock-on impact on other services travelling on the same line.
Matt Wakefield, Greater Anglia’s Head of Safety, Security and Sustainability, said: “The passenger alarm should only be used in an emergency.
“Recently, people have activated the alarm because they have fallen asleep and missed their stop, or because they simply want to get off the train. In one instance, a passenger pulled the cord, forced the doors open and climbed down onto the track. Not only is this very dangerous, it’s also illegal.
“Pulling the passenger alarm when there is not a genuine emergency delays the train and cause knock-on delays for other services. We are working with British Transport Police and will prosecute people caught doing it. Anyone prosecuted could end up with a £1000 fine.”
In October 2017, Greater Anglia and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust agreed a new process for their control rooms to work together to go to the aid of sick passengers as quickly as possible.
Passengers are advised not to pull the alarm but to wait until the next station where the passenger can be taken off the train and treated and medical help will arrive more quickly.
If someone becomes ill on a train and it’s a life-threatening emergency, passengers should dial 999 for an ambulance. Passengers should also alert any staff on board or contact Greater Anglia via Twitter.
Anyone who witnesses the passenger alarm being activated maliciously should text British Transport Police on 61016.