THE number of Tube trains may soon be cut further, despite increasing anger at overcrowding on the network, the mayor of London has warned.
Sadiq Khan said Underground services — which have already been slashed by 50 per cent during peak times — were likely to be reduced even more because staff sickness levels were continuing to rise due to coronavirus.
He said nearly one in three Transport for London (TfL) staff are now off work. And he blamed the government’s failure to halt work on construction sites for adding to the problem.
He added: ‘TfL will do everything possible to continue safely running a basic service for key workers, including our amazing NHS staff.
‘But if the number of TfL staff off sick or self-isolating continues to rise — as we sadly expect it will — we will have no choice but to reduce services further.’
Mr Khan spoke out as passengers continued to cram on to carriages yesterday, making government rules on social distancing impossible to comply with.
Around 500 British Transport Police (BTP) officers began dedicated patrols to remind people that only essential travel is permitted. The Met Police were also keeping an eye on public parks as Londoners exercised in the sunshine. Tourist hotspots such as the Millennium Bridge were deserted and mainline railway stations, including Waterloo, were virtually empty.
BTP Ch Cons Paul Crowther said officers had spoken to hundreds of commuters on the Tube. He told Sky News: ‘Most people out and about have got a very good reason to be out. But we have had some cases where we’ve persuaded people not to travel and also others where we’ve not been satisfied with the reasons for their journey, and make it clear we don’t want to see them tomorrow.’
Some Tube stations have introduced warning signs and new queuing systems, and shut escalators in an attempt to stem the flow.
But tens of thousands of key workers have been left with little choice but a commute from hell. Shortly before 7am, one commuter — a nurse named Danny — tweeted: ‘Another busy tube. This is unsafe and not fair!’