Tube party ends with arrests

A party on the Tube to mark the ban on alcoholic drinks on London transport has led to 17 arrests and the closure of six stations.

After midnight on Saturday 31st May, passengers are banned from carrying opened alcoholic beverages on the Tube, Docklands Light Railway, London Buses and trams, and drinkers organised a last hurrah through internet social networking sites to mark the occasion.

But thousands of people turned out en masse on Saturday night to register their protest at the move, taking over the circle line and closing down several stations including Liverpool Street Underground, Euston, Euston Square, Aldgate, Gloucester Road and Baker Street.

Organiser James Darling, 20, is quoted by Bloomberg news agency as saying: “It’s merely an opportunity to do one last time what we cannot do after June 1st.”

The party however has got “bigger than anyone imagined”, Darling said, with over 9,000 people confirming their attendance on Facebook.

Although many joined the party to prove a point that alcohol could be enjoyed without trouble, British Transport Police said 17 arrests were made, six assaults were reported on staff and there were several incidents of damage to trains and stations during the night.

Drunken partygoers reportedly ripped up maps and adverts, and started fighting and vomiting.

Unions had already voiced fears over the planned party.

“It is pretty irresponsible to organise a booze party on the Tube when alcohol already plays a part in so many incidents,” National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) general secretary Bob Crow said.

Mayor Boris Johnson introduced the ban, with the aim of making London travel safer and more pleasant, as one of his first acts after winning the mayoral race at the beginning of May.

Mr Johnson said: “I’m determined to improve the safety and security of public transport in London and create a better environment for the millions of Londoners who rely on it.”

Transport for London’s director of transport policing and enforcement said: “Passengers fully supported the smoking ban on the Tube and buses when it was introduced some years ago and I am sure they will be on board with this change which is designed to make travelling around this Capital a safer and more pleasant experience.”