E-scooters banned from TfL network with £1k fines after ‘intense’ Tube station fires

Transport for London (TfL) have confirmed all privately-owned e-scooters and e-unicycles will be banned across bus, Tube, train, tram and DLR stations and services from next week.

E-scooters have been banned from all public transport in London, following a series of “intense fires and considerable smoke and damage” across the capital.

Transport for London (TfL) have confirmed all privately-owned e-scooters and e-unicycles will be banned across bus, Tube, train, tram and DLR stations and services from next week.

The ban will come into effect on Monday, December 13, and include all vehicles, including those that can be folded or carried, with the threat of £1,000 fines for refusing to comply.

TfL’s health and safety chief said: “We have been extremely worried by the recent incidents on our services, which involved intense fires and considerable smoke and damage.

Customers who try to bring them onto our network will be refused access to our stations and premises, and not be permitted to use any of our services.”

The video shows a passenger coughing badly after smoke inhalation, and prompted an urgent review.

A member of the public rides an e-scooter as part of a London trial programme. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Passengers and staff could be at risk of “significant harm”, TfL said, from other e-scooter fires and while trying to escape the flames.

Street access campaign coordinater Sarah Gayton said: “This ban cannot come soon enough and it has to be a total ban for all of Transport For London services.

“There can be no exemptions, no exceptions and no breaking the rules.

“When the e-scooter starts smoking it very quickly bursts into flames.

“They are not safe in any enclosed spaces, the travelling public and staff have to be protected from this risk.”

The Met Police have also launched a crackdown on illegal use of e-scooters on public roads.

London firefighters have already issued urgent safety warnings over a spike in e-bike and scooter fires, and have attended more than 50 such blazes - more than double seen in 2020.

A recent blaze saw an electric bike lent against a hallway radiator catch alight, while incident investigators have found the fires to be particularly ferocious and pose “immediate danger”.

TfL has said anyone in possession of the devices will not be allowed to enter any premises, following various fires across the network, and will be asked to leave, refused entry, or fined.

Defective lithium-ion batteries which ruptured without warning were found to be the cause of the blazes, which led to toxic smoke being produced.

Firefighters believe these have been sourced online and fail to meet safety standards.

TfL is currently running an e-scooter rental trial in specific boroughs across the capital, which began in June 2021, and these vehicles are also not currently allowed on transport services.

Lilli Matson, head of health and safety at TfL said: “Our primary concern is always for the safety of our customers and staff.

“We have worked with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) to determine how we should deal with these devices and, following that review, we have decided to ban them.”

Paul Jennings, LFB assistant commissioner for fire safety, said: “We have growing concerns about the safety of e-scooters due to the amount of fires we are seeing involving them, so we fully support TfL’s ban of private e-scooters on public transport.

“Fires are dangerous and terrifying wherever they happen, but a fire on the transport network has the potential to become very serious very quickly and involve hundreds of people, particularly on trains where evacuation may be challenging.

“Anything that can be done to mitigate that risk is a positive step.”

He added: “We also have concerns around people trying to tackle the fires themselves, thinking vapours given off are steam, when they actually contain harmful and toxic gases.

“You should never try to tackle a fire yourself. Leave it to the professionals. As soon as you become aware of a fire, get out, stay out, close the door behind you and call 999."

While Lisa Garret, from the British Transport Police, confirmed officers will be working alongside TfL staff to engage with the public and enforce the ban where necessary.

“Our priority is the safety of passengers and the staff members across TfL,” she said.

The ban does not apply to mobility scooters or foldable e-bikes, while non-foldable e-bikes are allowed on some parts of the network at certain times of day.

Firefighters’ top safety tips for e-scooters and e-bikes:

  • Always use the correct charger for the product and buy an official one from a reputable seller.
  • Batteries can get warm during their use and it is advisable to allow them to cool down before attempting to re-charge as they could be more susceptible to failure.
  • Batteries should always be charged on hard flat surfaces where heat can dissipate.
  • Batteries can also pose a risk if they have been damaged, so try to ensure they are not getting knocked around while in use or while being carried as spares as this can increase the chance of damage to cells. They should also never be exposed to extremes of temperature.
  • You should always make sure you unplug your charger once it’s finished charging. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when charging and we would advise not to leave it unattended or while people are asleep.
  • Ensure you have smoke alarms fitted in areas where e-bikes or e-scooters are being charged and make sure they are tested regularly.
  • Never block your escape route with anything, including bikes and scooters. Store them somewhere away from a main through route and make sure you and your family have an escape plan in place in the event of a fire.

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