Coronavirus: Commuters seen piling on Tube trains after Boris Johnson’s call to return to work

Busy scenes come as Transport for London calls for passengers to wear face coverings

Conrad Duncan
Monday 11 May 2020 13:50 BST
The key soundbites from Boris Johnson's lockdown statement

Footage has shown commuters crowded together at London Underground stations on the morning after Boris Johnson called for more people to return to work, despite concerns about safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Video from Canning Town and Queensbury stations on the Jubilee line showed passengers waiting on busy platforms as workers expressed fears about social distancing on morning commutes.

Canary Wharf station was also notably busy on Monday morning before crowds eased later in the day, the BBC’s transport correspondent Tom Edwards said.

The footage came as data published by the location technology firm TomTom showed road congestion in London had risen at 8am on Monday to 20 per cent, up from 16 per cent one week earlier.

Commuters have said they are worried about the prospect of having to travel on busier trains to get to work following the slight easing of the UK’s lockdown.

Although some platforms were busy, passenger numbers at Waterloo station - typically one of London’s busiest - remained low during Monday’s morning rush hour.

On Sunday, Mr Johnson said people should avoid public transport, where possible, on their way to work but did not provide details on what measures would be introduced to help them do so.

Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said footage of busy Tube platforms was “seriously concerning” and warned it was “only a sign of things to come across the country.”

Transport for London (TfL) has called for passengers on public transport in the capital to wear face coverings, such as a scarf, piece of cloth or mask.

"Please travel outside of peak times and use a facial covering, carry a hand sanitiser and wash your hands before and after you travel," TfL said in a statement.

"The latest government advice is that, although face coverings are unlikely to prevent you from getting the virus, they could help prevent you from giving it to others.

"Face coverings are particularly important where two-metre social distancing is hard to maintain."

Gerry Tiernan, a 54-year-old commuter who works at the English National Ballet, said she was “worried” about increased passenger numbers.

“I am surprised at the amount of people who aren't wearing masks at the moment,” Ms Tiernan said.

“It has been great travelling when no-one is around, but it is going to get busier now. It's going to be pure luck as to whether you get it [Covid-19] or not.”

She added: “There are signs on the Tube saying 'Keep two metres apart' but no-one is doing it. When there are more people, it is going to be terrible.”

Meanwhile, Peter Osu, a 45-year-old who returned to work at a construction site on Monday, said he was concerned about potentially putting his family at risk of catching coronavirus.

“I am nervous about going back because I have a family and they have been isolating since the start. I feel like I am now putting them at risk,” Mr Osu told the PA news agency at Waterloo station.

“People were sitting close together on the Jubilee line and others were having to stand. There was no two-metre spacing. This is the first day, can you imagine what it's going to look like by the end of the week?

“It is not right at all. I listened to the prime minister yesterday and I thought it does not make sense.”

Additional reporting by PA

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