Climate activists have glued themselves to the top of a train on a London railway line, in an escalation of the civil disobedience protests that have been blocking road junctions in the capital since Monday.
Two activists linked to the Extinction Rebellion group climbed on to carriages at Canary Wharf station on the Docklands Light Railway, bringing services to a halt in the financial hub.
The man and woman unfurled a banner reading “Climate Emergency – Act Now” and glued themselves to the top of the train. Other activists glued themselves to the train. Within minutes of the action, Transport for London’s website reported “delays between Bank and Lewisham due to a customer incident at Canary Wharf”.
One man who was glued to the train, who gave his name as Mark, was removed by officers at 11.45am. Two protesters remained glued to the roof of the train. One, Cathy Eatburn, 51, said she was taking part for her teenage daughters’ futures.
“I don’t want to be here today and I’m really sorry for the disruption but I feel I have been forced to do this,” she said. “I have two daughters and I can’t sit by while their future is threatened … The government is doing nothing – we have to force them to act.”
The two protesters who had glued themselves to the roof of the train were finally removed by police at 12.40pm.
One of Extinction Rebellion’s founders, Gail Bradbrook, was at the scene and said Canary Wharf had been specifically chosen.
“This is the heart of the system that is bringing us to our knees causing huge disruption and chaos around the world … so we want people to pause and reflect,” she said.
She described the protest as relatively small and said the group would reflect on its success before decide whether to escalate the transport protests in the coming days.
Peter, 30, who works in financial services in Canary Wharf, was watching from the platform as police tried to remove the protesters.
“I think it’s a great thing,” he said. “It’s raising awareness and it’s made me think about this issue and made me come out here away from my desk and engage with what is obviously a very serious issue.”
His friend Kevin, 32, agreed. “It is something that is always there at the back of your mind but often in your day to day life it gets forced out by other things. So this is great, a really important way of making people engage … making them think seriously about this stuff.”
Thousands of people have taken part in the protests, blockading four landmarks in London in an attempt to force the government to take action on the climate crisis.
On Wednesday morning, the four sites – Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square and Oxford Circus – remained under the control of protesters, causing delays and diversions in the surrounding areas.
After almost 300 arrests made in the first two days of the protest, police continued to make arrests on Wednesday at the Oxford Circus site.
After Extinction Rebellion threatened to disrupt the city’s public transport network, Transport for London disabled wifi on the underground at the request of the British Transport Police.
“We’re working closely with the police to manage the impact of disruption to London’s transport network,” a TfL spokesperson said. “Customer wifi in underground stations has been temporarily switched off. We will restore access as soon as we are able to do so.”
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said that while he shared the passion of the protesters about the urgent need to tackle climate change, he was “extremely concerned” about plans to disrupt the underground.
In a Twitter post, he said: “Targeting public transport in this way would only damage the cause of all of us who want to tackle climate change, as well as risking Londoners’ safety and I’d implore anyone considering doing so to think again.”
The events in London are part of an international “climate rebellion” organised by Extinction Rebellion. Organisers said protests had taken place or were planned in 80 cities across 33 countries – from India to Australia, and around Europe and the US. In The Hague on Tuesday, activists occupied the international criminal court building.
Twenty-nine arrests were made in Edinburgh on Tuesday night after police cleared remaining activists who were sitting down across the city’s North Bridge. By 6am on Wednesday, all had been released and charged with breach of the peace, to appear in court at a later date. There are no further actions planned in Scotland this week but a number of protesters say they will travel to London to support activists there.
Extinction Rebellion was formed in the UK last year and held its first civil disobedience protests in London in November. It is calling on the UK government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and establish a citizens’ assembly to devise an emergency plan of action to tackle climate breakdown and biodiversity loss.
On Tuesday, Supt Colin Wingrove, of the Metropolitan police, confirmed a section 14 order was in place and called on the protesters to leave Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Parliament Square but they could continue their demonstration at Marble Arch.
“In order to impose this condition, the Met required evidence that serious disruption was being caused to communities in London. We so far have 55 bus routes closed and 500,000 people affected as a result … we are satisfied that this threshold has been met and this course of action is necessary.”