Transport for London has backtracked on a planned closure of the Central line during Thursday’s evening rush-hour after telling commuters the line would shut early due to staff shortages.
Customers were told earlier in the afternoon that no trains would run on most of the line except for a shuttle service between Leytonstone and Epping/Hainault, throwing the evening commute plans of thousands Londoners into disarray.
Train operator Greater Anglia had reported that TfL planned to begin “shutting down” the Central line from 5pm, with a “complete closure by 6.30pm expected”.
After an email sent by TfL to commuters announcing the closure started circulating on Twitter, the Standard contacted TfL’s press office at 1.35pm to seek confirmation - and was told the line was being closed early due to staff shortages.
But less than 40 minutes later TfL got back in touch with a statement saying: “Cover has been found and a normal Central line service will operate until the end of the evening”.
This means trains are scheduled to run to all stations to the usual last train time, as on a normal day.
Services on the line - which stretches from Epping to West Ruislip, via the centre of the capital - normally run until after midnight.
The reversal prompted confusion and anger among commuters, with one saying: “The utter chaos of the @TfL communications around the #CentralLine. I mean seriously.”
Another said: “Are you definitely now running a central line service after 1730? Absolute confusion!”
After the initial announcement, MP for Ilford North in east London, Wes Streeting, said: “This is a totally unacceptable level of service from TfL.
“I will be raising this with the TFL Commissioner, Deputy Mayor for Transport and Mayor of London. Passengers deserve better.”
He later deleted the post and said in an update: “Just had an update that the Central Line service will now run as @TfL have now managed to cover staff absence.
“Have deleted my original tweet to avoid risk of confusion. Thanks to @MayorofLondon’s team for the prompt response.”
Passengers had previously hit out at the closure.
One Londoner, Kelly Muggs, said: “So @TfL now think its ok to tell you at 1.14pm that central line is closing at 5.30pm. YOU’RE A DISGRACE.”
Another, Arun Joseph, added: “How does TfL expect people to get home from work? How do patients get to appointments and back?”
A third, Stephanie Hayden, tweeted: “What a disgrace. TfL have just sent out an email stating that the Central Line will close today at 17:30 due to 'staffing issues'. This is a working day in the capital city. @MayorofLondon, hold your head in shame."