Dramatic scenes as passengers cram onto London train heading to Yorkshire before Tier 4 lockdown

Hundreds of passengers were forced to abandon social distancing as they crammed onto a packed train - as these photos and videos show.

Monday, 21st December 2020, 1:38 pm

Boris Johnson held a press conference on Saturday afternoon in which he announced that London and parts of the south east of England are to be placed in a new, stricter Tier 4 lockdown from midnight.

The new Tier 4 will mean that travel is advised against and people are being asked to stay inside over Christmas and not meet up with or mix with friends and family.

The Prime Minister also announced that the proposed five-day Christmas bubble that had been planned across England has been scrapped nationwide, replaced with a single day of household mixing on Christmas Day.

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The changes were announced just days after a new 'super spreading' strain of Covid was identified in the south east.

London resident Harriet Clugston caught the Leeds train on Saturday evening to return home to Derbyshire to meet with her mum, who is in her support bubble.

She captured this jaw-dropping footage of the crowds packing onto trains to escape the capital's Tier 4 lockdown before the drawbridge is yanked up at midnight with only a few hours' notice.

The scene in London as passengers crammed onto a train to Leeds.
The scene in London as passengers crammed onto a train to Leeds.

Harriet explained: "Every person on this train including myself has made what is probably a very silly and irresponsible decision to travel albeit within the law.

"But that's what people were always going to do to be together at Christmas. My mother lives alone and there's no way I could not be with her at Christmas. Others will give similar reasons. What's at fault is the handling, announcing a midnight London lockdown at 4pm, obviously everyone will scramble to leave.

"As expected, train is crammed. Announcement on tannoy says social distancing "will not be possible" due to volume and to get off if you are not comfortable with that.

"Everyone of course has suitcases. People have tried to secure social distancing by placing on seats but being asked to remove them by other passengers as the train is so full.

The scene in London as passengers crammed onto a train to Leeds.

"To make matters worse, we've been told this train will be taken out of service at Derby. We will all get off and board a new train, no doubt mixing the virus amongst ourselves as we reorganise with new seat partners.

"Another thing to add here - the train companies have dropped the ball. When I made my travel plans I did so assuming there would be strict limits on the number of tickets available to ensure social distancing. It was only when the queues formed at the barriers it became clear that too many tickets had been sold. The risk here is in the getting from point A to B. Of course we could have all turned around and gone home when we realised what the train companies had done, and clearly we didn't so must take personal responsibility there...

"Having taken a test, I did not have Covid when I boarded the train. I follow all lockdown rules and stayed indoors since last Friday in preparation for going home in the five-day window. The problem is that in taking the window away with such short notice, Gov has created a very predictable stampede of people rushing to get out before the midnight deadline."

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.