Unsuspecting rail users were left stranded inside Twickenham station after the gate for late night commuters was padlocked shut before the last train had arrived.
Passengers were forced to resort to giving leg ups to each other through a small gap in the metal fence, risking injury from the steel spikes.
After one passenger rammed the exit sign aside, the rest of the passengers were able to escape.
Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond, said: “It’s unbelievable. It’s basic things they’re not getting right which points to a real systematic operational failing.”
A similar situation earlier last month had also left passengers stranded.
On that occasion one rail user broke through a barrier on the upper bridge of the platform only to discover another locked gate. Luckily, builders heard the commotion and were able to release those trapped.
Mark Hopwood, South Western Railway managing director, said: “We can only apologise to passengers that were trapped in Twickenham Station due to human error when our agency team forgot to unlock the night gate.”
The incident follows a long-running dispute due to RMT opposing the decision by SWR to have train drivers operate carriage doors instead of guards, and many days of strike action.
A spokesman for SWR said: “We have guaranteed to keep a guard on every train, but it is vital that we use the most efficient means of dispatch when we introduce our new trains so that we can deliver the improved performance our customers so desperately need.”
On Tuesday 18 February SWR announced a compensation scheme for 5 out of the 27 days of strike.
Munira Wilson, the Twickenham MP and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for transport, said: “This is probably the number one local issue that comes into my inbox.
“For residents and commuters this has meant lost working hours, missed medical appointments, lost time with loved ones and undue stress.”
Mrs Olney said: “We will be asking the department of transport for their intervention because this can’t go on.
“Trains are routinely late, routinely missing out stations and leaving commuters stranded.”
In response to Mrs Wilson’s complaints, Mr Hopwood later added that staffing hours at the station would be extended following Tuesday’s incident, allowing customers to use the main entrance after the last train.
Photo credit: Emily Saunders