An independent investigation will be launched after passengers trapped on a Southeastern train at Lewisham forced open the doors and walked along the track.

Reports from people on the train said they were trapped for up to five hours and at least one person was forced to relieve themselves on the train as the toilets were not working.

Eventually passengers pulled the emergency handles, opened the doors and chose to walk down the tracks instead of waiting inside any longer. As the rail conductor carries 750 volts of electricity, Southeastern had no choice but to turn the power off.

Robin Clarke was one of the passengers on the train and he wrote on Buzzsteam about seeing people crying and the place stinking of urine before eventually people forced the doors open.

He wrote: “We were on the way to a third hour in this horrendous situation, my calves were on fire from the awkward position I was standing in and the need for basic amenities like a toilet break or a drink were all I could think about.

“I could hear several people in the carriage crying and the smell of urine had become apparent.

“As Southeastern had cut the power to the line so that they could de-ice it, we had no lighting and now heat.

“The carriage was beginning to get very cold without any heating and some of the older passengers were visibly shivering.”

The passengers who hadn’t jumped off the train were finally rescued almost five hours into their ordeal by emergency services around 5.30 pm.

Southeastern has said it will be appointing an independent investigator to review what happened, as well as inform the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, advising them to carry out their own investigation.

A number of south-east London MPs have been very critical of what happened. Teresa Pearce, MP for Erith and Thamesmead, said she had a friend in her 70s stuck on the train for over five hours.

She said: “Delay repay won’t cut it. Why was there not a staff led evacuation of train after an hour or two.”

James Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, said he has been contacted by numerous people about what happened and he will be pursuing RAIB about what happened.

He said: “I know that many people had extremely harrowing journeys home on Friday night. I've been particularly disturbed by the reports of the conditions in some of the overcrowded trains with at least one passenger being put in the humiliating situation of having to relieve themselves on the train because of the lack of access to toilet facilities.

“I will be using all of the emails and reports I receive in my submission to the train companies and will be pursuing redress where appropriate.

“Southeastern have already said that they will be doubling the pay outs under the delay-repay scheme, but in a number of cases this clearly does not go far enough.”

A Southeastern spokesperson said: “Our trains collect power using an electrified third rail that represents a great danger to any person who might come into contact with it, risking electrocution. Trains had come to a stand after struggling to draw power from the frozen rail.

“On multiple occasionsg, people evacuated from trains against the advice of railway staff or the British Transport Police, presenting a significant risk to their safety.

“The safety of our passengers and employees is our foremost priority, and with people on the track Network Rail had no choice but to switch off the power supply until people cleared the track, which prolonged the situation further.

“Southeastern and Network Rail will be appointing an independent investigator to carry out a full review of the events on Friday. Although events of this nature are extremely rare, we are determined to learn lessons that we can apply at all levels to prevent and mitigate future incidents.”