Hither Green; Train Evacuated

Passengers on a rush-hour train have been led to safety after smoke was reported underneath the rear four carriages.

Travellers on the 7.17am London-bound Southeastern service from Gravesend in Kent pulled the emergency alarm and the train stopped halfway into the platform of Hither Green station just before 8am today.

With the track power switched off, passengers in the front four coaches were able to evacuate through the station, while those in the rear four coaches evacuated onto the track where they were met by staff and escorted through the nearby depot.

There were no reports of any injuries.

The train was taken out of service and the cause for the fault was being fully investigated. Southeastern said early indications show the train's shoe gear (the component of the train which draws power from the track) overheated and billowed with smoke.

Apologising to passengers, a spokesman for Southeastern said: "This was an understandably distressing event for the passengers on board the train this morning. Thankfully we've had no reports of any passengers injured.

"We're fully investigating the cause of the problem to make sure this doesn't happen again.''

Buses replaced services between Dartford and London Bridge via Sidcup, and services were diverted via Bexleyheath. The lines were re-opened at 10am with some knock-on delays.

Services returned to normal by 11.45am.