Thousands of Tube passengers faced major disruption after one of London’s busiest stations was closed twice because staff let their toast burn.
Workers across the network are now being given lessons in how to use toasters and other cooking facilities in their station mess rooms, following the two alerts at King’s Cross St Pancras. Both sparked major fire dramas.
On each occasion, firefighters were called to the station after smoke began billowing from singed bread left unattended in a toaster — once at 8am breakfast time and the other at 6pm tea time.
Each time, the station, which serves the Victoria, Piccadilly, Northern, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, and connects with mainline services as well as Eurostar, had to be evacuated and closed for 20 minutes.
Jo deBank of London TravelWatch, which represents passengers, said: “This might sound minor but to shut such a busy station — which disrupts the journeys of thousands of passengers — is serious. Perhaps there should be a toast ban across the network.”
A Transport for London spokeswoman confirmed the station had been closed twice “for approximately 20 minutes due to a fire alert.” One took place on March 13 and the other on April 7. She said the cause was “smoke from a toaster in the staff area of the station. London Underground has extensive heat and smoke detection systems, fire alarms and sprinkler systems and both alerts were dealt with quickly.
“Staff have been reminded to take care when using the cooking facilities and we would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused.” A senior Tube source said: “The two closures of King’s Cross St Pancras have caused severe embarrassment to top brass — particularly as it meant the station closed down both times. “LU is very fond of repeating how safety is paramount’ and then their own staff cause fire alerts by, of all things, burning the toast.”
It is not the first time staff have burnt their food and created a full-scale fire alert. Employees at Caledonian Road station on the Piccadilly line found smoke billowing from the mess room cooker this year.
The official report concluded: “Upon inspection of room found the cause of smoke, someone had decided it was a good idea to store their box of rice krispies and four custard cream biscuits in the oven.”