Could Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) or High Power Microwave Devices Have Been Used in the 7th July 2005 London Underground Train Explosions?

22st August 2012

Tom R. Butler


1.1    Anyone who has read alternative accounts of the 7/7 bombings, in contrast to the dubious conspiracy theory ‘narrative report’ prepared by the Home Office, may have been struck by some survivors’ vivid descriptions of how they felt, inter alia, they were being “electrocuted”. Their extraordinary statements first came to light when referring to Dr Nick Kollerstrom’s excellent book about 7/7,  ‘Terror on the Tube, Behind the Veil of 7/7’.[1]

1.2    This article takes a closer look at 22 of the ‘7/7’ survivors’ experiences (see Table 1) and reaches the conclusion that we cannot rule out the use of a new weapon- electromagnetic in nature, either in addition to, or as an adjunct to the explosives that apparently did most of the physical damage.

1.3    It will be asked why such a speculative ‘conspiracy theory’ is sensible, when a perfectly satisfactory explanation already exists?

1.4    The answer is threefold; firstly, the official theory is a conspiracy theory by definition, and one that has never been tested in a court, but no conspiracy theories are discussed here. Secondly, no ‘explanation’ of any kind has been sought based on the testimonies of the survivors complaining of “electrocution” and hair standing on end, etc. And thirdly, we do know that explosive force would utterly fail to explain the known data and we therefore need to explore alternatives, even at the risk of being accused of speculation. If there is speculation here, it is informed speculation.

1.5    Furthermore, the events of ‘7/7’ raise serious issues regarding the performance of London Underground’s electric power system – issues which may be ongoing, and there are ambiguities considered here regarding timing of the first explosion at Aldgate and the ensuing widespread power interruptions. These concerns are also reflected in the conclusions.


The Testimonies

2.1    Table 1 is a summary of 22 survivors’ main statements, mostly from the Inquest, relating to what they described as, “electrocution”, electric shock, instances of flames, white lights, and dramatic descriptions of hair that stood on end (see column 2). Some comments of mine are added in the last column. The full version of witness statements may be consulted via the website, and some have been reproduced here from Kollerstrom [1].


Attitude of the Inquest

3.1    It is considered there can be no doubt the experiences summarized in Table 1 were real and in most cases very graphic indeed. They should not be dismissed as the result of survivors’ imaginations or false memory.

3.2    Counsel for the Inquest neither sought to refute nor to ridicule these testimonies, which indicates that the Inquest had no interest, other than to record the statements and move on.

3.3    However, as most people would consider things happen for a reason, it would seem reasonable to expect an inquest to have made some effort to at least identify a plausible explanation for these remarkable statements. In this important regard, among others, the inquest left the public, the deceased and the survivors’ families poorly served, so justifying the present discussion.


Possible Explanations

4.1   It seems we are dealing with the unknown, but something distinctly electrical was going on that involved at least 22 people (there may be more). As Kollerstrom puts it when referring to the Aldgate blast,

These Aldgate blast experiences are strangely different from what we are meant to believe. The reader should note that any fireballs or flames, especially when seen outside the carriage, are incompatible with the use of TATP [explosive]…[2]

4.2    The most obvious line of investigation would be to assume that reports of electric shock, etc., were either caused by ‘power surges’ (discussed below), or as a result of direct or indirect contact with live apparatus. Let us now consider these to see if such arguments are sustainable.


On the Nature of Power Surges

5.1    As the phrase ‘power surge’ was used a great deal in media reports on ‘7/7’ and at the Inquest, a working definition of this phrase would be helpful.

5.2    The coroner asked London Underground’s witness, Mr Stephen Hickin, as to the nature and effect of a power surge, and his reply was,

Well, you might see arcing and fusing from the trains if there’s a power surge. It’s a bit like when a fuse or a circuit breaker blows out at home, you know, you get this sudden increase in power and everything goes off.[3]

5.3    Mr Hickin’s description is adequate, but we could add that his description might be referred to more formally as a power system ‘fault’, as understood in power system terminology, and so I will use both terms interchangeably.

5.4    To fix ideas as to cause and effect regarding power system faults, and to place in context the London Underground power failures, we may note the initiating event for a fault is often a failure of electrical insulation, either encasing a live (i.e. electrically charged) conductor, or the air between a live bare conductor and the body of the earth.

5.5    As a result, a high electric current may flow to earth, sometimes via intervening metallic objects that can raise their potential above ‘ground’ (the assumed reference point of zero potential), to dangerous levels for the fault duration. Damage to the insulation of high voltage cables for example, could have that effect, and anyone in contact with such a high potential could feel a shock sensation or worse- may suffer fibrillation and die (i.e. this would be electrocution in the accepted sense).

5.6    The high energy nature of an electric power arc and its high temperature makes it potentially damaging to equipment and anyone standing nearby, and accordingly it needs to be extinguished as quickly as possible. This is accomplished automatically by protective equipment (i.e. by ‘protection’) that sits in the background waiting for the fateful moment. Any reliance on comparatively slow, manual , intervention during a fault would be futile, and it is only during the restorative phase that human decision making is usually involved (as with LUL on ‘7/7’).

5.7    When, and if, the moment comes for protection to operate, its only but vital job is to open the correct high speed switchgear and isolate the fault, thus extinguishing the arc. Protection also has the important function of discriminating between the healthy and unhealthy parts of the power system, so that it does not switch everything off, and also that it remains stable when it detects a fault, even though the fault is outside its defined zone of protection.

5.8    Depending on the type of power system and its protection, all of that action from fault detection to circuit breaker opening, may take from a fraction of a second to a few seconds.  But of course, should things mal-operate, it may take significantly longer.  The reader is invited to bear these issues in mind when reading the description of what happened to London Underground’s power network (paragraph 7.1).


Were There Power Surges on ‘7/7’ & and Why?

6.1    Some early reports emerging in the aftermath of the unfolding incident were of faults/power surges.  My own reaction was that of instinctive skepticism, as the number and physical extent of the power surges made such a scenario appear unlikely.

6.2    The reason for this instinctive reaction was that it was not considered that a well designed network would be likely to behave in that way and it was concluded that actual terrorism was likely. The ‘power surges’, were therefore attributed at the time, to a combination of confusion, and possible misreporting. Indeed until I read Dr Kollerstrom’s book, I had not considered the matter again until recently.

6.3    However, it can be noted that explosions began to displace power surges in the news bulletins and subsequent media reports, and when considered in relation to the ‘electrocution’ reports recently noted, has raised doubts as to what had really happened. Were the reports of ‘power surges’ credible, and if so, what part did they play in the incidents?. In order to answer the question as to the nature and extent of ‘power surges’ on 7/7, we must turn again to the transcript of the Inquest.


Timing of the Blasts & Power Surges

6.4    On 11 October 2010, counsel for the Inquest made particular reference to the timing of the bomb that had exploded between Liverpool Street and Aldgate stations, prior to reading the evidence from London Underground regarding its power system. However, he prefaced this latter statement with a description of the affect which the eastern Circle Line blast had on the power network.

6.5    Here is part of counsel’s statement:

When the bomb on the eastern Circle Line- that is to say between Liverpool Street and Aldgate—exploded, it damaged cables running along the tunnel wall including an 11-kilovolt cable that runs between Moorgate electricity substation and a distribution point called Mansell Street known as Feeder 642.  The damage to the cables caused the transformers, the electrical transformers at the distribution point inMansell Street to trip, causing widespread power disruption.

6.6  He continues:

Those electrical disruptions were significant and they explain why it was initially thought that the cause of the disruption was a power failure or a power surge, because, we’ll hear, numerous members of London Underground staff called into the control room and sent radio messages to the effect that the lights were out….[4]

6.7    Referring to the London Underground’s tunnel telephone (i.e.’TT’) system, counsel explained,

In addition, when the bombs exploded, they caused the tunnel telephone circuits to operate for the three sections of the traction current…. the tunnel telephone circuits are part of a failsafe system [comprising] two 50-volt copper wires….if the wires are pinched together or otherwise short circuited, the much greater direct current …. the traction current , is cut off.


The Time of Aldgate Blast

6.8    Two of the explosions, counsel explained, caused the copper wires of the TT-system to short-circuit directly in the tunnel in which the respective train was travelling, but at Aldgate it was the pair of wires on the other side of the track, opposite from the exploding train.  He stresses, the point is that the trips provided the Inquest with an exact time for two out of three cases for the moment of the explosion.  As a result, he stated, Transport for London subsequently computed the exact times of those power trips from time-stamped paper printouts generated in the control room.

6.9    Consequently it was the Inquest’s view that the Aldgate explosion occurred at 08:49.00 precisely. This fact is not disputed here.

6.10  How does this compare with the evidence of London Underground’s witness Mr John Porter, read out by counsel on 18 October 2010? (see paragraph 7.1).


Evidence of Mr John Porter, London Underground Limited

7.1    As some of Mr Porter’s evidence duplicates that of counsel above, in quoting it at length, I have underlined the part that relates to timing, as it illustrates the points of possible confusion but have quoted other passages more fully to show the overall severity of the incident on power supplies. This is further discussed later (paragraph 9.1). (The full version of Mr Porter’s evidence may be found on the website):

On 7 July, 2005, the bombing incidents caused problems on three separate parts of the system.

The damage to the number 642 cable caused the 11-kilovolt electrical feeder to trip at Moorgate substation at 08.48.40. This in turn caused the 22-kilovolt coupling transformers, which supply the Mansell Street distribution network, to trip at 08.49.02[5]. This caused widespread power disruption to a significant area of the London Underground network. [my underlining].

The whole of the East Londonline lost power, which affected on nine stations in total from Shoreditch to New Cross. There was a complete cessation of traction current and signal supplies to the entire East Londonline which cause all trains to stall with only battery-powered lighting. There was also a cessation of all lifts and escalators supplies in the affected stations on the East Londonline and emergency lighting only was available. Next, the district and Circle lines were affected from Bow Road Westwood to Embankment. This was due to the temporary loss of the following power assets. (Not given).[my underlining].

There was no traction or signalling supply available on this section of the District and Circle lines which caused all trains in this area to stall with only battery-powered lighting. There was also a cessation of all lifts and escalators supplies in the affected stations and emergency lighting only was available. Whilst Embankment Station lighting and escalators supplies were unaffected, there was, however, no traction current supply as far as Embankment. Also, the Hammersmith and City line lost power between Moorgate and Aldgate stations. There was a cessation of traction and signalling supplies between Moorgate and Aldgate stations, which caused all trains in this area to stall with only battery-powered lighting. There was also a cessation of all lifts and escalators supplies in the affected stations and emergency lighting only was available.

The Northern Line suffered from the loss of escalator and non-emergency lighting supplies at Angel Station. All supplies fromOld Streetsubstation, which serves the Northern line, were lost, but traction and signalling supplies were maintained by adjacent substations which were not supplied by theMansell Streetdistribution switch house.

The northern part of the Victoria and Piccadilly lines were affected by the loss of compressors atCoburg Street,Holloway Road,Northumberland Roaddepot, Wood Green and Cockfosters. The compressors tripped as a consequence of a voltage suppression [sic] detected by their protection devices, but this problem was rectified before any trains stalled.

The staff at the power control room implemented our recovery procedures which are designed to enable fast and safe restoration of supplies. The supplies at Mansell Street distribution switch house restored at 08.53. This would have immediately provided for lighting capacity, lift and escalators supplies have to be reset. Locally by station staff following such events. Traction and signal supplies were available at 09.02, but the traction sections which had been discharged with the emergency TT system (i.e. the tunnel telephone system) were not recharged at this time as the line controller had not yet established the cause.” [my underlining].

7.2    We note that reference is made to the explosion between Liverpool Street & Aldgate stations. It is not, however, clear from this statement as to what effects the other explosions may have had, if any, on electrical infrastructure. However, the reader will apprehend from the above that a lot of problems were caused apparently by damage sustained to only one 11kV feeder cable.  However, the Inquest it is fair to say, showed very little interest.


Discussion of Timings of Power Interruption & First Bomb Blast at Aldgate

8.1    At the Inquest, regarding timings we were informed by counsel,

The Circle Line tripped westbound between Baker Street and Bouverie Place, incorporating the section of the track where the explosion on the westbound Circle Line occurred, but no absolute time can be computed for that explosion because there is a variant of plus or minus 30 seconds or so in the process by which the printout in the control room prints out the time stamp of the moment of the trip. But the time was somewhere around 08:48.43.[6]

8.2    On 18th October 2010, however, from the witness statement of Mr John Porter we learn,

The danger [sic] to the number 642 feeder cable caused the 11-kilovolt electrical feeder to trip at Moorgate substation at 08:48.40. This in turn caused the 22-kilovolt coupling transformers, which supplyMansell Street distribution network, to trip at 08:49.02.

8.3    We therefore note an apparent discrepancy of 20 seconds in the times of tripping at Aldgate.  However, counsel for the Inquest then notes these times are “approximate times” as they apparently involved handwritten logs rather than the “computerized event logs” upon which he preferred to rely. This makes the issue of timing difficult to determine.


London Underground Power Supplies- the Good the Bad & the Ugly

9.1    Apart from the apparent timing discrepancies referred to above, Mr Porter’s account was a mixture of good news and bad; the good news was that thanks to swift action by LUL control staff, we are led to believe the majority of the traction & signals power was restored by 09.02 hrs.

9.2    The bad news, however, was that it only took an initial fault on an 11-kilovolt feeder cable (No. 642) routed along a tunnel, its associated ‘pilot’ cable (used for cable protection), and a further cable supplying remote signals, to completely shut down the whole of the East London Line and badly affect others.  These facts alone should have raised fundamental questions regarding the design and operation of power supplies on London’s Tube network.

9.3    It is not clear why, for example, the damage inflicted on the 11-kilovolt cable by the assumed explosion, resulted in the tripping of the (probably) two 22 kV ‘coupling transformers’ at Moorgate.  Why could the damaged cable not be isolated, leaving these transformers on load and still supplyingMansell Streetsubstation? Why was there apparently no alternative supply toMansell Streetfollowing tripping of the Moorgate transformers?

9.4    There are many questions that should be answered but the technical issues cannot be adequately explored without detailed information regarding the nature of the electrical system and the standards it was supposed to comply with. And so far as I am aware the Inquest did not even have sight of a diagram showing the main electrical connections. This was, I suggest, either due to ignorance of its significance or that of official indifference.

9.5    The objection that a coroner’s court would be inappropriate to consider in detail the power failures, has some weight, but strengthens the need for a public inquiry that would be able to deal with these issues in depth.  Furthermore, it often takes years to give effect to the sort of improvements that could be urgently needed, so one wonders whether seven years on, such improvements have ever been identified, let alone implemented?


What can be learned from the electrical incident?

10.1  The need to review design of the London Underground supply system is clear from the wide extent of the power disruption caused by a single event. We can also conclude, on the balance of probability, that there was a causal link between the widespread interruption of power apparently initiated by the fault on the 11 kV cable (No. 642), and the first explosion between Liverpool Street & Aldgate stations. In other words there is insufficient evidence to dispute the time given of 08:48.40 for the number 642 feeder tripping.

10.2  However, ambiguities nevertheless persist surrounding the timings of power interruptions and explosions at Aldgate, which were not satisfactorily resolved at the inquest, as there was no counsel for the survivors/families who would have been able to cross-examine evidence.


Could the Survivors ‘Electrocution’ Sensations be Explained by the Power Surges?

11.1  With so much high energy switching taking place it might be imagined that ensuing power surges/faults, played some part in the reports in Table 1.  However, I regard such an association as very unlikely, as there is no compelling evidence that anyone referred to in Table 1 was ever in contact with a live conductor (they would also have sustained burns). Furthermore, the shock sensations were far too long in duration.


High Voltage Sources

12.1  We sometimes come inadvertently into contact with high voltage electricity in our daily lives, as many office workers will appreciate after receiving ‘micro-shocks’ from walking on carpet and then touching a metal filing cabinet. It is what some people call ‘static electricity’ but may still be at many thousand of volts.  The same may happen should you stand beneath a 400,000 volt electric transmission line, where the electric field strength may be about 5000 volts per metre. Such electric field strengths, while high by ordinary standards, are not regarded as a danger to life or limb. [7]

12.2  However, the experience of Mr Nairn & Ms Quaghebeur (survivor Nos. 14 & 19 respectively, Table 1) are of particular interest, as they mention hair standing on end. Their testimonies are significant as they imply an exceptionally high intensity electric field that could only be normally produced by a high voltage source such as, for example, a Van de Graff generator (i.e. about one million volts or more). Such an effect would not normally occur if a person were to stand directly under a 400,000 volt power line, situated about 8 metres above the ground.

12.3  Consider, therefore, just how high a potential the Table 1 survivors may have been subjected to in order to account for severe and sustained electric shock and hair standing on end.  It was as if a large region of electric charge pervaded the carriages on all three trains and perhaps more widely. There also appears to be an omnidirectional nature of the field within the confined space.  Indeed, as the potential produced in such a field is ‘scalar’ in nature (having magnitude only), it has no directional properties. We also note that some spoke of white or orange light surrounding the carriage or advancing towards them, and flames outside (Kollerstrom: pp 163, 166).  Kollerstrom also notes,

These electrical experiences tend to suggest something outside the coach as having caused the blast, whereas they do not seem at all compatible a the ‘suicide bomb’ backpack going off.  (Kollerstrom: p132).

I agree with the author’s view and ask: would the explosives allegedly used on 7/7 have produced such an effect? There is no doubt that they could not.

12.4  It is also worth reiterating the words of other survivors cited by Kollerstrom:

Marjit Dhanjal on the train from Edgware Road to Liverpool Street:

There were a few sparks and I thought it was just a power surge. Then I saw this fireball a few carriages in front of me, and everything went black. (Kollerstrom: p163).

‘Ian’ who recalled ‘electrocution’:

The next thing I remember was reading a paper and getting a sharp feeling of electrocution, like I imagine anyone who has been struck by lightning gets. (BBC News 16 October, 2005, cited in Kollerstrom: p183).

Davinia’: “Experienced a massive fireball coming towards her, and the next thing she knew, she was burned all over” (Kollerstrom: p166).

12.5  Regarding these events Kollerstrom observes, “Is there any kind of de-centered electrical field effect that could have been working here, to help us understand why officials kept alluding to ‘power surges’ for several hours?” (Kollerstrom: p184).  The above is compelling evidence that the answer to the field question is yes, but it is less clear how the power surge aspect may have been exploited.

12.6  Furthermore, in case the reader thinks that high voltage discharges cannot produce sustained yellow/orange glows, as some witnesses said they saw, then it is suggested they study the experiments of the famous inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943).

12.7 Renowned for his demonstrations, Tesla would routinely generate spectacular electrical discharges from potentials of millions of volts at high frequency, electrically charging himself to these potentials in the process. However, readers should note: ‘Tesla coils’ as they are now known, are absolutely lethal if mishandled, whereas Tesla knew how to exploit their high frequency effects safety. For further details visit the following link:


Significance of Electrocution, etc. Reports on All Three Trains

13.1 It is apparent from Table 1 that the various accounts of 22 survivors, noted by Kollerstrom as, “strangely different from what we were meant to believe”, were spread out on all three of the bombed trains. The reports themselves also bore striking similarities.

13.2 This either indicates each train was carrying the means to produce the effects, or, as appears more likely, the effect was somehow all-pervasive in that part of the Tube system on ‘7/7’

13.1  Having eliminated the power frequency and direct current equipment as the source of “electrocution” of the Table 1 survivors, use of some kind of high frequency electromagnetic device or alternatively, a high power microwave device cannot be ruled out.

13.2  I am aware this will immediately raise questions such as, ‘why would such a device be used’, but as previously indicated, we refrain from empty conspiracy theories here, or discussion of motives, and unlike the ‘7/7’ inquest, focus on the evidence.  Nevertheless, while it is uncomfortable to contemplate, use of such devices appears the only plausible explanation for the survivors’ reports.

13.3  However, it can be stated without controversy that proof of the use of such devices would instantly remove any possible blame for the crime from the alleged perpetrators, and place it firmly on the shoulders of those who would have access to such devices/methods.  Pressure to conduct a new inquiry would then be irresistible.


Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) & High Power Microwave Devices

14.0  EMP Devices

14.1  The EMP effect has already been ‘weaponised’ (see link below). Such weapons owe their origin to the early discovery that a huge electromagnetic pulse is generated when a nuclear weapon detonates. The effect of this can be to destroy the functionality of any electronic/electrical equipment within range, making this property a useful weapon in its own right.  Following the discovery, all that was required was to find a way to produce the effect, but without the nuclear explosion.

14.2  Modern EMP weapons are mostly explosively triggered to obtain a very sharp, destructive pulse, and clearly may be used once only.  While the basic devices can apparently be on the order of one metre long, they can also be packaged as conventional-looking free-fall bombs that would be dropped over enemy command centres, etc. They would certainly be ‘off the shelf’ items for NATO, and others. A useful description can be found at the following link:

14.3  For a further idea of how compact EMP devices can be, visit the following link, via which they can apparently be purchased in their basic form:


High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices

15.1  The main thing that distinguishes an HPM device from an EMP weapon is its ability to be repetitively used, and also its operating frequency, that can make it more suitable for certain targets. However, it also has a sharp pulse characteristic that may be important in the context of this discussion (see Electric Shock Sensations, below).

15.2  However, we should also be aware that anti-personnel HPM devices are also available now for use in riot control situations. When directed at a person, possibly standing a few hundred metres away, it causes an intense burning sensation on the target’s skin.  So great is the discomfort, the target is compelled to rapidly vacate the area and it is understood at least one such military style device had been deployed in time for the 2012 London Olympics. The following link illustrates what the mobile military version can look like;


Electric shock sensations

16.1  A possible objection to the use of EMP devices on ‘7/7’ is that their operation is typically for a very short duration (e.g. 1 μs or less), so how would they result in sensations of electrocution that lasted on the order of seconds?  It must be conceded this is unknown, but it is suggested very little information about physiological effects exists in the public domain, and may be known only to the military.  It nevertheless seems plausible that, depending on its operating frequency and duration, being in the firing line of such a weapon could be uncomfortable, and a blast effect would be significant for those in proximity with an EMP weapon.

16.2  It therefore seems reasonable to suggest, if any EMP device was used on ‘7/7’, it could have had unexpected effects on people who may not have been its primary target.

16.3  A similar objection can be raised regarding most of the pulsed HPM devices of which we are aware, except for the crowd control system discussed above, which operates continuously and produces sustained extreme discomfort for the duration the target is within the beam.


Communication Systems

17.1  Knowledge of any electrical problems involving handheld radios on ‘7/7’ would be useful for this discussion, especially as radios could be targeted by EMP weapons, but there appears to be no available evidence of such problems.

  Survivor’s name Key word/phrases mostly from evidence at Inquest Train /official position number Comments
1 Mrs C. Chetty Clicking sound went on for quite a while;Bright white light; power failure; could not move;Electrocuted. Aldgate/12
2 Mr A. Brown Electrocuted; unable to move. Aldgate/ 4 Reduced over 30-60 sec. maybe due to electric power switched off after 15 mins.
3 Mrs M. Wiltshire Electrocuted. unknown Reference made to Mr A Brown’s experience (above).
4 Ms C. Main Having fit or electric shock;Face sore (see also NK, p132) Aldgate/ 20 Did not hear a bang
5 Ms C. Daniels Felt pressure on whole body; electrocuted. I thought I was dying Aldgate/ 15 Pressure lasted for about 4 sec.  She was quite close to official bomb position.
6 Mr A.M. Silvestro Wires hanging down. unknown
7 Ms E.A. Owen Something rushing past me right to left; ceiling coming in (to my left); strong electric shock. Edgware Road
8 Mr S. Bullen Thrown back onto seat; electrocuted. Edgware Road Effect subsided instantly.
9 Mr D.B. Belsten Whack on side of head; big white flash; electrocuted. unknown
10 Ms K. Benton Electrocuted. unknown It was really painful. Deafening noise. When it stopped it took a while to see again.
took a while to see again.


11 Mr Tony Walters Electrocuted from feet up. Heard loud bang. Saw train next to his.
12 Ms J.A. Gruen Wire dangling as though it was on fire; electrocuted. Saw huge fireball explosion…as though coming towards me. Cannot recall seeing a lot of metal…recall wires Piccadilly Line (1st carriage) .
13 Ms Y. Newton Loads of wires hanging down.  unknown
14 Mr T.D. Nairn (others’) hair was standing on end; frizzy. unknown Evidence of a very high potential.
15 Ms G.A.Hormigos Heard a bang; electrocuted; parts of train hanging from ceiling. Piccadilly Line/ 92 Not sure how sensation lasted.
16 Prof. P.N. Patsolos Shock/electricity; wires dropping down through a hole (at Arnos Grove) unknown Could see peculiar things (e.g. his brain & skeleton); lasted a few seconds.
17 Mr P. Barnes Heard ‘boom’; Electrocuted. unknown Holding on with both arms- thought fingers on my right arm had melted together. Disturbance seemed to move towards front of train.
18 Ms M. Cheianu Electric shock shot down my arm; whole body felt squeezed. Piccadilly Line /1st carriage Did not hear any loud noise.
19 Gerardine Quaghebeur …it went dark – like a whoosh, a very strong wind. It felt like something electrical , because my hair just went up on end…everything seemed to be electric. [1] Aldgate/ 26 A very high potential would have been required to do this.


[1] See NK, p 132.

19 Gerardine Quaghebeur …it went dark – like a whoosh, a very strong wind. It felt like something electrical , because my hair just went up on end…everything seemed to be electric. [1] Aldgate/ 26 A very high potential would have been required to do this.
20 Bruce Lait it was like a huge electricity surge which knocked us out and burst our eardrums. I can still hear that sound now.[2] Aldgate/ 18
21 Mustafa Kurtuldu It went white and there were flames outside the train, but they died down quickly. [3] Aldgate / coach adjacent to one which exploded.
22 Sarah Reid There was a fire beside me, I saw flames outside the window of my carriage. [4] Aldgate/ 2 coaches from bomb blast.
23 Marjit Dhanjal There were a few sparks and I thought it was just a power surge. Then I saw this fireball a few carriages in front of me, and everything went black.

Edgeware Road to Liverpool Street. Position unknown.


NK, p163.
24 ‘Ian’ The next thing I remember was reading a paper and getting a sharp feeling of electrocution, like I imagine anyone who has been struck by lightning gets.” Unknown. BBC News 16 October 2005, cited in NK,p183.


25 ‘Davinia’ Experienced a massive fireball coming towards her, and the next thing she knew, she was burned all over” Unknown. NK, p166.


[1] See Kollerstrom N., page 132.

[2] See Kollerstrom N. p. 132.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.


18.1.  At least 22 survivors of ‘7/7’ had remarkable stories to tell that bore marked similarities, involving the experience of what they almost universally described, as being “electrocuted” or subject to “electric shock”.  There were additionally, reports of white lights, whooshing sounds, clicking noises, flames outside the train carriages, and hair standing on end.

18.2.  The use of explosives would not explain the above effects reported by survivors.

18.3.  The exact root cause of “electrocution/electric shock”, etc. reports cannot be determined from available evidence, but frequent references by the media to so-called ‘power surges’ can be eliminated, as can possible contact with live equipment subsequent to the explosions on/under the trains.

18.4.  Devices exist that can generate very high power electromagnetic energy, and their use in some form, especially at microwave frequency cannot be ruled out as the cause of “electrocution/electric shock” reports etc., or of the strange glows/flames outside the train carriages.

18.5.  The possibility that more survivors had similar experiences to those listed in Table 1 also exists. Table 1 survivors, now free from the pressure of an inquest and having had time to reflect, may be in a position to elaborate on their experiences. Indeed any other survivors with experiences of “electrocution”, etc. on ‘7/7’ could accordingly be encouraged to come forward.

18.6.  Timing given for the Aldgate explosion is accepted as 08:49.00 and is not disputed.

18.7.  Timing of the tripping of London Underground 11-kilovolt feeder No. 642 (and other equipment subsequently) is subject to uncertainty but it may be concluded on the balance of probability that it was co-incident with the Aldgate explosion that operated the emergency tunnel telephone tripping system.

18.8.   The timing of the power interruption reported by London Underground at the 7/7 Inquest, of 08.48:40 disagrees with the accepted time of the Aldgate train bomb of 08.49:00, but could fall within the stated range of uncertainty. This matter was not subject to any cross-examination at the Inquest. Furthermore, the uncertainty regarding timing, implies the hypothesis that damage was deliberately inflicted on the power system, should not be ruled out.

18.9.   The widespread impact of the 11 kV feeder fault (feeder number 642) that occurred at 08:49.00 at Moorgate substation, was out of all proportion to its individual significance in a well designed power system. It is alarming that so much chaos could have been caused by this single event. This fact alone would therefore justify a full review of the design & operational standards of London Underground’s power supplies with the aim of improving the resilience of London’s Tube network.

[1] Dr Kollerstrom N., ‘Terror on the Tube’, 3rd ed, Progressive Press, 2011,

ISBN: 1-61577-737-7, EAN 978-1-61577-737-2

[2] Kollerstrom N., p. 133.

[3] Inquest: 19 November 2010- morning session.

[4] Inquest transcript: 11 October 2010, p.m..

 [5] It is not clear how many transformers there were or what switching facilities they had.

[6] Transcript: 11 October 2010, p.m..

[7] We do not discuss alleged affects from long term exposure here.

Tom Butler worked at the Department of Trade and Industry as a member of the Engineering Inspectorate with responsibilities for enforcing regulations made for the protection of the public, and the conduct & reporting of formal hearings and public inquiries. He left in 2007. He has also studied at Imperial (MSc 1982) & Birkbeck Colleges (BSc physics1992).