Going Underground: Four million Tube journeys a day for first time since pandemic as 'London roars back'

More than four million Tube journeys have been made in a day for the first time in four years as London continues to recover from the pandemic.

Transport for London said there were about 4.05m trips on the Underground last Thursday, November 23, and almost 25 million for the entire week.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said the figures showed that London was “roaring back”. He said: “This impressive boost in ridership will support London’s and indeed the whole UK’s wider economic recovery.”

TfL said the continuing return of passengers – numbers are up about seven per cent on last year – highlighted the need for further Government investment. It is seeking about £500m a year to help renew the Tube, with new trains for the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines a priority.

About 100 of the 500 trains on the London Underground are more than 50 years old. Central line trains are being refurbished and new Piccadilly line trains are due to start running in 2025.

But there are concerns the 36-train Bakerloo line fleet, which dates to 1972, may not be replaced for another decade, creating the risk of an “endemic failure” on the line – the 14th busiest railway in the UK. Train frequencies have already had to be reduced from 22 to 20 trains an hour.

TfL said there were about 3.7m Tube journeys a day midweek, and more than three million on Mondays and Fridays.

Prior to the pandemic, the Tube carried the highest number of passengers on record in December 2018 when 5,031,000 journeys were made in a day.

The Elizabeth line, which opened a year and a half ago, had its busiest day to date on Thursday November 9, with more than 766,000 journeys.

TfL wants Government funding for five additional Elizabeth line trains to improve services at Old Oak Common when the HS2 line opens around 2030.

Because the HS2 station at Euston will not open until 2040 at the earliest, there is the fear that the Elizabeth line will become as crowded as peak-hour Tubes and passengers will have to wait 10 minutes to board a train at Old Oak Common.

TfL is developing a plan to turn trains round at Old Oak Common rather than have them run through to Heathrow or Reading – meaning peak frequencies can be increased from 12 to 18 or 24 trains an hour if the five new trains are ordered.

TfL is concerned that there was no mention of long-term capital funding in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn statement last week.

TfL commissioner Andy Lord said: “We need the Government to urgently confirm that they will provide the capital investment support we need for 2024/25.”