Tube plays cold at Wembley?

Tube plays cold at Wembley?

Huge numbers of concert goers at Coldplay’s Wembley Stadium gig on Sunday 21st August 2022 were prevented from using the tube and had to find alternative means of getting home. Many people were angry and some didn’t get home until 5am. Various means of alternative travel included walking, getting a night bus, an Uber or a taxi.

Its not the first time this has happened. Its a occurrence that happens from time to time at Wembley or even the O2. However the issue on this particular night that made it much worse was the fact there was a tube strike on the Friday (19th August 2022) which prompted Coldplay to move their gig from the Friday to the Sunday night so its fans could both travel to the stadium and home from the stadium easily. The fact the fans encountered huge transport problems anyway on the Sunday only made more quite irate about the situation.

The concert finished at 10.40pm so there was evidently a fair bit of leeway between that and the final tube services southbound at 00.12am and northbound at 00.33am.

Just after the concert finished! This is the queue for Wembley Park station as seen from the rear! Its roughly 320 metres or 1050 feet from where this was taken to the ticket barriers at Wembley Park station! Source: Twitter.

Much anger arose because Wembley Park station was closed at 11.40 (or 11.45pm according to some) thus preventing many even getting a train home. It meant those travelling north couldn’t get those late services and had to find alternative routes instead.

Crowds outside Wembley Park station after midnight (this is only half the visible crowds the rest are in the subway and the long flight of stairs leading to the tube station. Source: Twitter.

Were people expecting too much on a Sunday? The tube does after all close earlier on that day than in the week. Or had TfL suddenly decided to close the station after seeing the numbers of people attempting to make their way home – and that because the tube was soon closing down for the night?

Here’s a selection of the many tweets sent re the fiasco at Wembley Park. People’s interpretations and experiences of the situation will all of course be different however its quite evident from the messages that something went amiss that evening after the Coldplay concert.

Apparently trains weren’t running that often. There was an 18 minute wait for one service…

18 minute for the next Met southbound. Source: Twitter.

I’m not certain what this picture is doing in relation to the chaos. Its taken by one of those affected by the debacle but shows Harrow on the Hill station instead. The person in question as trying to get home to Wembley Park! The train at the platform is likely to be one of those destined for Neasden depot. According to the timetables this could have been the empty stock working timetabled for 23.22 and perhaps a little late.

Besides the fact this is Harrow on the Hill and not Wembley Park shows one thing is for sure. There was a gap in services. In some ways it does demonstrate the likelihood that by the time this service had reached Wembley Park, the crowds waiting to get into the station or onto trains would be most unmanageable. There should have been a train at 23.30 but clearly that was not to be the case.

That train arriving eighteen minutes later would have been at Wembley Park at 23.43 – the time its said the station shut its doors to everyone waiting outside and on its platforms.

Some claimed trains were being sent empty through Wembley Park without stopping. I think these were likely to be those trains destined for Neasden depot. The travelling public would have not known this would they? Unfortunately they would see these trains and no doubt would assume TfL was winding people up by sending trains through the station non-stop.

There was assertion from many affected that the station had been closed around 11.40pm…

Clearly the station was closed from sometime after 11.30pm to 11.45pm. Source: Twitter.

Source: Twitter.

Apparently this was an appalling dereliction of public service from TfL…

TfL dereliction of duty? Source: Twitter.

In examine further the question of exactly why the station was closed by 11.45pm there’s one pretty good factor. Whether there was an eighteen minute gap in service or not by this time tube services would have been quite sparse. The last Jubilee line southbound would have been at 23.37pm and then that heavily delayed Metropolitan service. The only other services would be three more trains on the Metropolitan to Baker Street and these were at 23.47, 23.57 and 00.12.

Clearly in view of the huge numbers waiting at the station it was somewhat evident these three trains wouldn’t be able to shift those numbers. TfL evidently had a good idea they would not be able to process the remaining huge numbers of travellers through the station before train services closed for the night.

There’s one small issue however. As has been claimed quite a number of people were waiting on the platforms when TfL decided to move them out of the station. So it seems that maybe not even those final services ran – except one. One report claims there was a 00.30 from Wembley Park to Baker Street. That could have been the 00.12 which had been heavily delayed.

Of course the problem here would be that a driver would have to be found who would happily take what would essentially be an unscheduled late night service down to Baker Street before bringing it back to Neasden depot. Its not an unheard of thing. But it does involve staff also willing to be at Finchley Road and Baker Street in order to let passengers get of at these stations. So its clear there has to be every confidence a service could run its full route and be taken back to the depot after and this of course involves a number of staff willing to stay for the extra mile.

Apparently services were ‘cancelled’ when people were on the platforms. Source: Twitter.

Night time bus trip to Baker Street from Wembley. Source: Twitter.

Ironically it seems some had no effort getting their trains shortly after leaving the concert. As the following video it seems a large number opted for a route from Wembley Stadium that took them to a rarely used entrance at Wembley Park stadium.

This film shows people using an unofficial route to the tube avoiding Olympic Way. Many probably had prior experience or knowledge of the issues that could arise at Wembley Park and instead preferred to use this route which took them via Wembley Park Drive. Video source: Twitter.

That route doesn’t go to the main entrance at Wembley Park station but would instead utilise the station’s other lesser used entrances on Wembley Park Bridge Road including an overflow one.

Even Wembley Stadium announced on social media that tube services had been cancelled. Was this really happening? Well the news media seems to think so too.

Were there really cancellations as has been claimed? It seems until about 10.15pm there has indeed been problems on the Metropolitan (Uxbridge and Amersham/Chesham services affected with severe delays according to Tweet The Tube and True Tube Status. The latter was reporting delays right up until 23.51pm. Thus trains were ending up where they should not be in the sequence of things.

Metropolitan line delays in the late evening on 21st August 2022. Most delays southbound and severe delays on Uxbridge branch. Note: Sometimes this showed a time of 21.11pm rather than the 11.51am depicted here. The diagram was the same however in both cases. Source: True Tube Status.

One little known fact is TfL did put on extra buses – these were special services to Baker Street and King’s Cross as well as additional vehicles on normal service routes. Despite that things still didn’t go well – for example the night bus to Stanmore was taken out of service mid route due to very late running.

Huge queues trying to get into Wembley Central station as an alternative to Wembley Park. Source: Twitter.

One person walked to Prestons Road instead and his observation was that the Metropolitan’s trains were running okay – and practically empty! Twitter. However as has been mentioned earlier some of these would possibly have been returning to the depot.

Wembley Stadium gave an earlier warning that there might be problems.

And they even gave a second warning a few hours later. How much people heeded of this is not known. But clearly there was indication that things were not as they should be. Nevertheless many were quite irate at these warnings given these were rather late in the day and people have already bought their tickets, changed the day from the Friday to the Sunday and were most committed to seeing Coldplay do the final of six gigs at the stadium.

Despite the problems many faced getting home via transport from Wembley Park station, TfL did issue an apology of sorts later on Monday 22nd August and their explanation is station was closed because the remaining tube services would not be able to cope with the numbers wanting to use them:

Hi, we apologise to customers who struggled to get home on Sunday night after the rescheduled Coldplay concert at Wembley Stadium. We always work closely with Wembley Stadium and other stakeholders in order to help customers travel to and from large events as easily as possible. For safety reasons, busy Tube stations are closed when they reach capacity to avoid crowding. In this case, Wembley Park station was closed before final trains as it had reached capacity for the remaining services. ^TA

TfL’s apology was in two parts but these were not threaded. The apology was made to one person in fact but was indicated as being for everyone who was affected by the debacle. The first part is here and the second part is here.

Apparently TfL closed the tube early – and the police were taken back by this…

Many other tweets relating peoples experiences after the concert and early closure of the station and apparent cancellation of services follows:

On the N68 to South London at 2.46am! Source: Twitter.

Screencap used because account is either suspended or restricted. Source: Twitter.

The aftermath…

Screencap used because account is either suspended or restricted. Source: Twitter.

Last tube southbound at 00.30am! Or is this a type and that should read as 23.30pm? Actually the last tube southbound according to the timetables leaves Wembley Park at 00.12am and arrives at Baker Street at 00.24am. Presumably this would have been the 00.12am held back because of delays to preceding southbound trains.