Fury at Sadiq Khan grows as workers are forced onto packed Tubes on 3rd day of coronavirus lockdown


Commuters vented their fury at Sadiq Khan again today as the London Underground was packed with key workers including NHS staff on day three of Britain’s historic coronavirus lockdown.  

The Mayor of London, who has sparked fury and defied the Prime Minister by cutting Tube services while blaming staff sickness at Transport for London, is being accused of ‘risking lives’ because of the conditions on the trains.

But Mr Khan doubled down over the criticism today, tweeting: ‘One in three TfL staff are off sick or self-isolating: we cannot run more services. Employers: staff must work from home wherever possible to help protect our key workers who need to travel. If you have to go to work, please don’t travel at rush hour.’

More shocking pictures of packed carriages and platforms emerged again today due to there being an insufficient number of trains to carry people with no choice but to go to work, including medics on the frontline saving lives.

Denise Bennett tweeted this morning: ‘Message from daughter, going to work as a nurse in London – ‘Tube station is rammed’. How can she stay safe, keep her patients safe when she has to travel to work like this, Sadiq Khan?’

Debz Lipsphil was on the Tube today and tweeted: ‘Sadiq Khan, why have you reduced the Tube service? Key workers are forced to be squashed together! Nuts! Thanks for that stupid unsafe idea!’ Meanwhile Richard Heath said: ‘No wonder the country (is) not taking this serious when the London Tube (is) still like f***ing sardines’.

And Patricia Pereira posted: ‘Jubilee line service packed, Waterloo station escalators out of use forcing people to use the ones that are working and be extremely near. Three TfL staff by gate line talking, no one manage the crowd (or) helping on social distancing! I am a key worker, I don’t want to get ill!’ 

MailOnline’s Piers Morgan tweeted: ‘Ridiculous. Come on Mayor Sadiq Khan – you must run enough trains for people to maintain 2m distancing or they will infect each other and be unable to provide essential work. Sort it’. 

Mr Khan has axed the Tube’s Night service, and drivers on that shift could be drafted in to ease pressure during the day – with workers saying staff are ‘dropping like flies’ with about a third off sick or going into self-isolation.

However early-morning Tube use today was down 13 per cent on the previous day, while bus use was down 8 per cent. Passenger numbers yesterday morning were down 92 per cent compared with the same day last year.

A Central Line train on the London Underground is pictured at 5.45am today, showing carriages are full even before rush hour

Commuters pack onto a Central line train into London this morning as people continue to travel into the capital

Commuters pack onto a Central line train into London this morning as people continue to travel into the capital

The escalator at London Waterloo station this morning where social distancing for key workers was impossible again

The escalator at London Waterloo station this morning where social distancing for key workers was impossible again

Commuters face a 14-minute wait for a District line train at Ealing Common station in West London this morning

Commuters face a 14-minute wait for a District line train at Ealing Common station in West London this morning

Critics including commuters and Piers Morgan have urged Sadiq Khan to put on more Tube trains to avoid spreading coronavirus

Critics including commuters and Piers Morgan have urged Sadiq Khan to put on more Tube trains to avoid spreading coronavirus

Critics including MailOnline’s Piers Morgan have urged Sadiq Khan to put on more Tube trains to avoid spreading coronavirus

Some passengers stated that their Tube journeys were quieter than normal today. Twitter user @mortimusprime-x posted two pictures showing carriages with empty seats, and wrote: ‘My normally packed #tubes this morning on the way to work… thank you to all those staying at home #keyworker £keepsafe #stayathome.’

One in three of TfL staff are ill or in self-isolation – including large numbers of drivers and customer-facing workers – with the sickness figures appearing to be disproportionately higher than among frontline workers in the NHS, police and fire services. 

Some have blamed the strength of the Tube unions and their threat to pull away members for the high level of staff absence.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan doubled down over the criticism today, tweeting: 'One in three TfL staff are off sick or self-isolating: we cannot run more services.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan doubled down over the criticism today, tweeting: ‘One in three TfL staff are off sick or self-isolating: we cannot run more services.

But one Tube driver told BBC London: ‘We are attacked no matter what we do. Most of us have families and because people who should be in quarantine or practising social distancing aren’t following guidelines we are being exposed to the virus even more. We are dropping like flies.’

Another driver told the broadcaster: ‘We have 30/80 drivers off and half the managers. We are trying our best. We want to do more but we don’t decide the service levels.’

MailOnline can reveal that during rush hour today some Underground lines are currently only running one train every 20 minutes, when it should be one every three to five minutes, causing more crammed conditions in ‘death trap’ carriages and on heaving platforms.   

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said: ‘My own view is that we should be able to run a better Tube system at the moment, we should be able to get more Tubes on the line.’

Commuters hold onto bars as they pack onto a Central line Underground train into the capital this morning

Commuters hold onto bars as they pack onto a Central line Underground train into the capital this morning

Commuters wait for a Central line train at Stratford station on the London Underground this morning

Commuters wait for a Central line train at Stratford station on the London Underground this morning

Passengers sit on a London Underground Circle line train this morning as the UK continues to be on lockdown

Passengers sit on a London Underground Circle line train this morning as the UK continues to be on lockdown

He claimed ‘I do not wish in any way to cast aspersions on what is going on at TfL’, and pledged to give the mayor ‘every support’ to get through ‘what seems to me to be his present logistical difficulties’. 

As deaths in the capital doubled, the Mayor of London is facing mounting fury and pressure to restore services to normal levels with some NHS workers claiming they are now more worried about travelling to work than treating coronavirus patients in hospital.

** Are you travelling in London today? Send your stories and pictures to [email protected] or [email protected] ** 

But in a statement Mayor Khan revealed more train services will go and said: ‘Nearly a third of TfL’s staff are now off sick or self-isolating – including train drivers and crucial control centre staff. 

‘Many of them have years of safety-critical training in order to run specific lines – so it is simply not possible to replace them with others. 

‘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.’.

There were grim scenes on the Tube again today where commuters with no choice but to go to work were faced to stand nose-to-nose with strangers on teeming trains.

Commuters at Canning Town Station in East London this morning wait to board a Jubilee line Underground service

Commuters at Canning Town Station in East London this morning wait to board a Jubilee line Underground service

A police officer stands guard at Canning Town station in East London today as people continue to travel by Tube

A police officer stands guard at Canning Town station in East London today as people continue to travel by Tube

London Underground passengers wait to board a Tube train at Canning Town station in East London this morning

London Underground passengers wait to board a Tube train at Canning Town station in East London this morning

Underground commuters board and alight from a train at Canning Town station in East London this morning

Underground commuters board and alight from a train at Canning Town station in East London this morning

Key worker Tony Drew tweeted: ‘No-one is listening to you and don’t need to reduce the service as much as you have. You need to get more trains on and stop putting the lives of key workers like me at risk’.

Kate Mat wrote: ‘I have zero respect for Sadiq & TFL! Are they really blind or just heartless??! They are putting key workers life in danger!!!! Nurses, doctors and other key workers can’t practice social distancing on cramped tubes!’  

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!’

And Barry Trimble, whose 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.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said there is ‘no good reason’ Tube services have been slashed and Mr Johnson also questioned why up to three quarters of services had been axed in a call with Mr Khan yesterday. 

** Are you travelling in London today? Send your stories and pictures to [email protected] or [email protected] ** 

Mother of premature baby says she is worried about taking the Tube to visit her son in hospital in as chef and waitress struggle to travel amid Underground chaos

Mary Selassie, 42, is taking the underground from Ealing Broadway to Westminster, the closest station to St Thomas' hospital in South London where her son Elhan is being treated in a specialist intensive care unit after being born three months early

Mary Selassie, 42, is taking the underground from Ealing Broadway to Westminster, the closest station to St Thomas’ hospital in South London where her son Elhan is being treated in a specialist intensive care unit after being born three months early

A special needs teacher told MailOnline he has quit work because of the dangers of contracting coronavirus while travelling on packed tubes, while the mother of a premature baby has revealed that she was worried about taking the Tube but had little choice if she wanted to visit her newly arrived son in hospital. 

Mary Selassie, 42, was taking the underground from Ealing Broadway to Westminster, the closest station to St Thomas’ hospital in South London where her son Elhan is being treated in a specialist intensive care unit after being born three months early. The journey takes around an hour.

She told MailOnline: ‘I need the underground at this time because without it I would not be able to spend time with my son. I’ve been doing this journey for the past three weeks and in the last few days the service has not been as regular. I don’t understand why they are reducing the number of trains because it just means that we have to wait for longer.

‘Many other people are in the same difficult position as me. They’re getting the tube because they have to. Of course I’m worried because there’s a very high chance that I could become infected using public transport and then I definitely would not be able to see my baby. This is just adding to my stress.’ 

Edvaldo DaSilva, 42, said he had tried and failed to find space to board the underground on Monday and Tuesday and today decided to stay at home. 

Mr DaSilva said: ‘I normally leave my home at Bethnal green and take the tube at around 7 am. ‘ Last week it was fine and I was able to get on to the trains. ‘ 

But on Monday and Tuesday it was impossible because their were less trains running than before. 

‘The platform was packed and the trains took about 15 minutes to arrive and then I couldn’t get on. I looked at everybody on the trains and I thought ‘they’re breathing all over each other. This is so dangerous’. 

‘We are supposed to be keeping two meters from people and now that they are less trains, people are being pushed together even more and it’s dangerous for our health. 

‘I saw passengers with their faces stuck next to others and it was terrible. It just needs one person on the train to have coronavirus and everybody is at risk.’ 

Mr DaSilva, who works at the Riverside School in Wood Green, added: ‘This is not acceptable. It’s really hard for me because I teach vulnerable young people life skills and I must be allowed to do my job. 

‘But my boss understands and now the government needs to understand. These tube trains are very dangerous for everyone staff and passengers. Something has to be done. 

‘They need to put new trains on or restrict people travelling. It’s so dangerous and opposite to what we are being told by the Government. I feel very sorry for those people who have to ride on those tubes so closely together. It is not right.’

Ana Gomes, 40 and Carlos Maestu, 51 were taking the central line from Ealing Broadway to West Acton following a shopping trip to a supermarket.

Ernesta Juskatie, 38, a dental nurse, is taking the underground to get to work

Ernesta Juskatie, 38, a dental nurse, is taking the underground to get to work

Ms Gomes, a waitress who is currently at home after the restaurant she works in closed, said: ‘We don’t want to get the tube, but we have to. The nearest supermarket to us is here in Ealing Broadway. Both of us are taking all the precautions we can, we’d rather not use public transport but what else are we supposed to do?

Spaniard Mr Maestu, a chef, who is also at home following the closure of the central London restaurant he works in added: ‘In Spain the lockdown is much tougher than in Britain. If you ask me, they need to shut down all public transport except to essential workers because there are still too many people out and about.

‘If they did close the tube it would be a big problem for me, but you can’t just think about yourself in a time like this.’

Ernesta Juskatie, 38, a dental nurse revealed that she was taking the underground to get to work.

She added: ‘The practice where I work is still open, so I don’t have much choice. When I’m on the underground, I don’t sit, and I don’t touch anything. I know that might not be enough to stop me getting infected but I’m doing all that I can.

‘Personally, I hope they close the whole network down, except for those who really need to get to work, like NHS staff. That way I would have no choice but to stay at home.’

Kim Black, 48, a child protection social worker from Oxford said that she was taking the underground to Paddington to catch a train to her home.

She added: ‘This is my last day at work and then I’ll be working from home. I just came into London to collect a laptop from my work and sort out some paperwork.

‘It’s actually quite pleasant commuting from Oxford at the moment because normally, you don’t even get a seat. The underground needs to keep going; there needs to be an increased service, not a decreased one because there are a lot of people who still need to use it.’  

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