Wednesday, February 21

Carriages packed as row over Tube service continues



London Underground carriages remain crowded despite the coronavirus pandemic amid a row between the Government and Mayor Sadiq Khan over service levels.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has claimed there is no good reason why timetables have been cut to the extent they have.

But Mr Khan’s spokesman insisted ministers were told countless times that Tube frequencies reflect high levels of staff sickness and self-isolation.

Shortly before 7am on Wednesday, a senior nurse named Danny posted on Twitter: Another busy tube. Can we not stagger people’s start times so we aren’t all squashed on the same tube! This is unsafe and not fair!

Barry Trimble, who said his work involves ensuring cancer patients receive chemotherapy, posted: The Tube is packed, with social distancing impossible. We need more people to stay at home and more trains running in morning and evening peak.

The Tube is operating at around 50% of its normal capacity during peak times, leading to images of packed carriages being posted on social media.

The Victoria and Jubilee lines were among those which were overcrowded on Wednesday. Transport for London has pledged to continue to run as much of a Tube service as we possibly can.

On Tuesday, Mr Hancock said: “Transport for London should have the Tube running in full so that people travelling on the Tube are spaced out and can be further apart obeying the two-metre rule wherever possible.

And there is no good reason in the information that I’ve seen that the current levels of Tube provision should be as low as they are. We should have more Tube trains running.

In response, Mr Khan’s spokesman said nearly a third of staff are absent, which means there aren’t enough drivers and control staff to run a full service.

He accused ministers of not taking difficult decisions to ban non-essential construction work and provide proper financial support so that freelancers, the self-employed and those on zero-hours contracts stay at home rather than use public transport.