London Underground stations have been closed for a total of 76 days over the past three years, new figures show. Londoners, commuters and tourists couldn’t access the tube for the equivalent of more than two and a half months on 1,658 separate occasions between January 2019 until this May, according to data obtained by London Assembly Labour.
Causes of the closures include problems with station infrastructure, staffing shortages, customer accidents, and safety and security concerns. Kentish Town was shut to the public for the longest stretch of time, amounting to 112 hours, or nearly five days, from 17 individual closures in that time. Fulham Broadway closed 18 times resulting in 79 hours of closures, or more than three days.
Northwick Park in Harrow was inaccessible for 40 hours, while Ruislip Manor and Regents Park both had closures amounting to 36 hours. Turnpike Lane closed for 32 hours and Stepney Green for 31 hours. Some 13 stations were closed for more than a day. More than 200 closures were caused by infrastructure incidents such as train faults or signal failures, while customer-related issues caused 143 of the shut-downs on the network.
Nearly half of London’s 272 Underground stations have experienced station closures since January 2019 due to staff shortages. Of the more than 1,000 closures since then, the vast majority (765) were due to Covid-19. Elly Baker AM said these figures underlined the need for “fair, long-term” government investment in Transport for London (TfL) to ensure that stations are properly staffed and infrastructure upgrades and repairs can go ahead.
Ms Baker praised TfL staff for their work to keep London moving throughout the pandemic and beyond, despite “extremely challenging circumstances”. The new figures come just days after the Department for Transport extended TfL’s latest emergency funding latest by just a few weeks, which a bailout set to end on July 13. The bailouts impose savings of up to £800 million on TfL’s budget over the next two years while forcing TfL to raise between £500m and £1 billion of additional revenue per year from 2023.
The Mayor and TfL Commissioner have warned that the lack of a multi-year funding agreement could force London’s transport network to fall into a ‘managed decline’ scenario with infrastructure projects scrapped and job cuts, as well as tube services being cut by 9% and bus services reduced by 18%.
Labour’s London Assembly Transport Spokesperson, Elly Baker AM, said: “The Government’s inaction and inefficiency in agreeing a TfL funding deal is extraordinary. Londoners are left facing the frustration of further station closures, staffing problems and the delay of key infrastructure repairs and upgrades.