Posted 24th March 2020 | 3 Comments

Protests as London Underground trains stay crowded

PICTURES of rush hour crowds on the London Underground have sparked protests, amid claims that Tube drivers are ‘furious’ about the situation.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has backed entreaties from central government that anyone who can possibly work from home should do so while the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The frequency of trains on London Underground lines has been reduced, while 40 or so intermediate stations without interchanges have been closed.

However, the demand for rush hour transport appears to be continuing, and because there are fewer trains those that do run appear to be just as crowded as before.

Pictures have been circulating which do not appear to be any different from a normal busy morning or evening, and the number of people makes social distancing impossible.

All four rail unions – ASLEF, RMT, TSSA & UNITE – have issued a joint statement, which reads in part: ‘As railway workers, we cannot work at home. But we plead with the travelling public, if you can work from home, please do.

‘We want to do all we can to make sure that key workers and essential goods get transported around the country. We will do everything we can to help the country fight and beat this pandemic. But we need your help. Crowded trains are a danger. Not just to you as an individual, but to the key workers who have to travel on them. We must all do everything in our power to protect these people as they do everything in their power to keep us safe.

‘We therefore ask you, before you plan to get on a train, tram or tube ask yourself; do I really need to make this journey? If the answer is no; stay at home.’

Transport secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: ’Concerning to see images of packed trains this a.m. The advice is clear: Stay home if possible. That is the way to save lives.

’We are working with train operators to introduce a small number of trains for key workers to have space to be safe.’

Timetables on the National Rail network were also cut back sharply yesterday, and around 50 per cent of the normal service will be running for the time being.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    I'm thinking tube drivers exposure may come when clocking on for off of a shift, and if the cab hasn't been properly disinfected since the previous driver sat in there breathing, coughing and touching everything for 8 hours.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    In any large population there are always going to be those known scientifically as idiots. Do we have to resort to issuing Permits To Travel as in WW2 to keep these people from wandering around?

  • Jez Milton, Manchester

    How exactly are tube drivers exposed to any risk whatsoever? Are they giving cabrides? Despatch staff will have enquiries from the public. But surely passengers can be repeatedly told to keep 2 metres away from staff, and other passengers, using constant station announcements? How about plastic head masks for rail staff, with air entering from the rear or the top?