If You See An Unattended Bag…

…please tell a member of staff. Sure, we’ve all heard the announcement, but do you have any idea what happens next? I found out this evening, as the train pulled into Queenstown Road, and the guard came through and started asking people about a bag that was sitting by one of the seats. It turned out that someone had noticed it had been left by a passenger who got off at Clapham Junction and bravely reported it – instead of doing what everyone else had probably done and ignored it, hoping it would vanish and preferably not in a puff of smoke.

What didn’t happen next was a mass evacuation of the train, followed by the sealing off of Queenstown Road station and a controlled explosion. Instead what happened was that the guard picked the bag up and after talking to the people who were sitting near it, opened it up and had a bit of a rummage around. As this revealed no wires, ticking clocks, semtex, bags of flour and/or big black round things with a burning fuse labelled ‘bomb’, he concluded it was safe and took it off with him and the train resumed its journey.

This is … well, sensible, I suppose. I guess al Quaeda could bring London to its knees just by leaving a bunch of empty rucksacks around if every bag triggered a full scale security alert. And with the advent of suicide bombers I suppose it’s more the attended rucksacks we should be worrying about but still, I wonder if we’d have been so cavalier (because everyone sat there quite calmly and watched the fun) had this all happened yesterday?

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7 responses to “If You See An Unattended Bag…

  1. Or as one of my Station Supervisors did… walk over stick a finger in both his ears and give the damn thing a great big kick.

  2. I hope it didn’t go off …

  3. I worked at a ferryport and people were always leaving bags behind. The security guys used to always open them up as if they contained dirty laundry, which most did. Good job there were never any bombs.

  4. There is a certain procedure that we go through when checking out lost property/suspect items.

  5. Ian – of course some people’s dirty laundry may be worse than some bombs
    Station Sup – I think we (travelling public) rather take for granted the fact that you guys are dealing with these things day in day out and while 99.9% are harmless, there’s always that chance…

  6. It happened a few months back on the Piccadilly line. Everyone was quite content to ignore the bag except for one person who started shouting and challenging everyone as to who owned it. Nobody admitted ownership so, eventually, the emergency cord was pulled. We duly pulled in to the next station where somebody else picked it up and put it out on the platform. Well OK, perhaps not the best move but it’s what happened next that really startled me, having removed the bag from the train people began filing off the train and onto the platform next to it!

    The bag had been reported by the embarrassed owner at Russell Square.

  7. Perhaps every station needs a bomb-proof box that these things can be dumped into …

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