Passengers trapped in pier train

A glitch in Southend’s new pier train left people trapped inside no Monday when the doors failed to open.

Passengers and onlookers had to band together and prise open the doors of the new Sir David Amess pier train after gremlins took hold.

Peter Grubb, owner of Uncle Tom’s Cabin café on Shoebury Common, was impressed by the new ride… but was caught up in the drama.

He said: “The trains are comfortable and you can even charge your phone, but unfortunately it didn’t want to let us off!

“The noise from the engine was incredible, like a dry bearing in the works. It was really screaming. There was a couple with a young child wandering about. The mother was beside herself as the child was standing by an open door when the train started to move, then the door just shut.”

Mr Grubb added that when they got to the other end of the pier the doors wouldn’t open .

Engineering staff working on the pier, and the driver, came up but they too couldn’t open the doors.

Someone pressed the emergency button inside – but nothing happened. Mr Grubb continued: “We were entombed in a fibre glass box!

“People on the outside helped leverage it open eventually with their fingers and we tried from the inside and we eventually got it open.”

The train is part of a £3.2million project to install two eco-friendly, state-of-the-art vehicles. It was named after murdered Southend West MP Sir David Amess and began carrying passengers earlier this month.

The council said both trainss are still operational.

Scott Dolling, director of culture and tourism for Southend City Council, said: “We are aware of an issue that has occurred with the new pier train where the doors have not opened as planned.

“We have been working with engineers from Severn Lamb on this issue and we are taking the appropriate steps to ensure this issue is avoided going forward.

“We apologise to any distress caused by this incident, and would like to reassure residents and visitors that the trains are safe to use. Customers of the pier train are encouraged to report any issues or concerns to pier staff to help us monitor and improve the performance of the train.”

The £3.2million pier train project has seen two eco-friendly vehicles added with technology described as state-of-the-art.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter