British health minister, London mayor at odds over subway service

Elias Hubbard
March 26, 2020

Earlier on Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock called for London's Underground service to run "in full" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Busy scenes have been playing out in the capital's Tube stations as reduced services force those who can not work from home to travel while packed closely together. Images of London's tube services circulated yesterday depicting crowded trains, despite the virtual lockdown imposed by the government. There was no reason convincing enough, for the information he had seen, that the current levels of tube provision should have been so low, health secretary regretted.

"We should be able to run a better tube system at the moment, we should be able to get more tubes on the line", Johnson said in parliament, adding that the government would give London's mayor "every support and help that we can".

The mayor added that "too numerous people using TfL services at the busiest times work in construction", as he reiterated his call for the Government to ban non-safety construction work.

When TfL reduced Tube frequencies last week, it stated that this was "to ensure a safe and reliable service".

"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".

Some commuters have said that reductions in train carriages and timetables have caused overcrowding.

Others reported that trains were more empty than usual.

But a spokesman for London Mayor Mr Khan insisted ministers have been told "countless times" that TfL can not run a full service due to levels of staff sickness and self-isolation.

Mr Khan's spokesman urged the Government to "act urgently to get more people staying at home rather than going to work unnecessarily".

According to the Department for Transport, demand for rail travel across the United Kingdom has fallen by up to 69% on some routes.

Those flouting the rules could be fined anything from £30 upwards.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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