A GREENWICH DLR station escalator is closed after a "potentially life-threatening" fault meant a woman nearly lost her toes in the machinery.

Travellers say that, on February 18 at around 6pm during the height of the rush hour, the Cutty Sark station escalator started going backwards, accelerated and caused people to fall and get caught at the bottom.

Commuter Debra Sainsbury lost two toenails when her shoe got chewed up at the bottom of the escalator and also smacked her head as she toppled over, leaving her temporarily hard of hearing.

The 46-year-old said: "It felt like it was going at a high speed and you just couldn't control it."

She said: "My foot was caught in the bottom, I was falling and some man picked me up and got me off but by then the tips of my toes were in the end of the grill. I'm lucky I didn't lose them.

"I don't remember it too well. It happened in seconds but it felt like a lifetime.

"All I can remember is thinking 'oh my god, I'm having a nightmare'. It was like something out of a disaster movie."

She added: "People were screaming for it to stop. They were pressing the emergency stop button and it didn't stop.

"One girl was on the floor and her coat was being taken by the escalator.

"If you think about it, if there was a school party on there of people holding young children or babies in their arms it could have been a hell of a lot worse."

And the housing officer added: "The lack of response from staff was shocking.

"There was no one there to help me walk and the other passengers were helping me. I'd like to thank them."

Fellow commuter Martin Descalzi, 32, was caught up in the drama.

He said: "It slowly stopped and then started going backwards.

"Everybody thought it was quite funny at first and started making room for the people coming back down.

"But then we tried the emergency button which, I guess, should stop the engine, but it just kept going down."

London Assembly Member Len Duvall has written to the Mayor of London, saying that it was "a potentially life threatening incident" and urging a full investigation.

He said: "It looks like the actions of the public helped avoid this situation being even more serious. We need to know why the escalator malfunctioned so seriously; why there weren’t enough staff at the station and what will be done to make sure this doesn't’t happen again."

Director of the DLR at Transport for London Rory O'Neill said: "We have apologised to two of our customers at Cutty Sark DLR station yesterday after an escalator apparently developed a mechanical fault and caused one customer to fall.

"The escalator is currently out of service while we carry out a full investigation."

He said both customers were offered medical assistance at the time which was declined. Taxis were called for both women.

Customers are currently being re-routed to the lifts and stairs.