In Brief

How bags of sugar saved the Tube from tide of concrete

Overnight clean-up for signal room accidentally flooded with concrete began with bags of sugar

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ENGINEERS who cleaned up a London Underground signal room, flooded by a foot of liquid concrete, started by rushing to the supermarket to buy sugar, according to the Evening Standard.

Thousands of commuters were left stranded on Thursday when contractors accidentally flooded a Victoria Line control room. The concrete covered vital wires used in signalling, bringing the line to a standstill from Brixton to Warren Street at 1.30pm.

Contractors renovating Victoria Station were using the concrete to fill "voids", London Underground said, but the space it was poured into - a new escalator shaft - must have had a crack or hole as the concrete spilled through into the signal room.

Once the disaster had been discovered, according to the Standard’s source, sugar was sprinkled onto the concrete to help prevent it from setting. Meanwhile, the public was told the line was affected by "flooding".

According to the source: "TfL [Transport for London] were telling people the reason for the closure was flooding, because technically it was. They just didn't say it was flooded with concrete."

A major clean-up operation was launched. Once the bulk of the concrete had been removed, staff had to clean and check or replace the many signal wires affected by the spill.

Peter McNaught of TfL told the BBC: He said: "Because of the safety critical nature of the wires, every single change to the wiring has to be double-checked by an independent person.

"It's actually quite a cramped environment, it's down at ground level, so we had about eight technical officers working in half-hour shifts crouching down and removing these wires.

"At 03:56 we ran our first test train through the area, that was completed by 04:25. After that we did a second pass of a test train in both directions before we were happy to announce and hand back the Victoria line at 05:00."

TfL said that a good service was running on the Victoria Line today.

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