The London Underground stations worst affected by 'staggering rise' in lift closures due to 'lack of trained staff'

A man standing at lifts at Russell Square Tube station
Lifts at Tube stations are closed when there are not enough of the necessary staff on duty -Credit:Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sadiq Khan has been criticised over a 'staggering rise' in London Underground life closures. A freedom of information request made by the Liberal Democrats' candidate for mayor, Rob Blackie, has revealed that there was a fivefold increase in the amount of time lifts have been out of action between 2021 and 2022.

This, the party adds, was solely due to a lack of trained staff at Tube stations. This figure increased by another 34 per cent in 2023, it is reported.

The Lib Dems add that, in 2021, the total number of minutes that lifts were out of operation due to a lack of trained staff was 499 hours. In 2022 this is is believed to have risen to 2,460 hours. Later, in 2023, the figure 'soared to 3,301 hours'.

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In February 2017, Mr Khan stated that TfL's goal is 'absolutely to have no lifts taken out of service due to an absence of trained staff'.

Worst hit stations

Figures suggest that the worst-hit station was West Finchley on the Northern line with lifts out of action due to staff shortages for 703 hours in 2023.

The next five worst performing stations in 2023 were:

  • Wimbledon Park (District line) 465 hours

  • Harrow and Wealdstone (Bakerloo line) 348 hours

  • Osterley (Piccadilly line) 247.5 hours

  • Mill Hill East (Northern line) 204 hours

  • Southfields (District line) 196 hours

These figures do not include lift closures due to engineering failures.

Rob Blackie with London skyline behind him
Rob Blackie is the Lib Dem candidate for mayor -Credit:ANDREW KING PHOTOGRAPHY

Mr Blackie said: “The accessibility and reliability of public transport are essential for a thriving and inclusive city, and it is imperative that steps are taken to ensure that all commuters can travel safely and conveniently. These closures are not publicised and create huge problems for disabled people and others who need to use a lift. Not knowing that a lift is suddenly closed can even leave people trapped underground.”

A spokesperson for the Transport For All campaign group said: “This is not just inconvenient, stressful, and dangerous in the moment that you’re stranded - it has a devastating knock-on effect on the rest of our lives.”

TfL has 'ambitious plan to improve accessibility'

A spokesperson for Mr Khan told MyLondon: "Sadiq is committed to making our city as fair and accessible as possible so that every Londoner can make the most of it. TfL recently published an ambitious plan to improve accessibility across the transport network with more than 80 actions. This plan was developed with TfL’s Independent Disability Advisory Group and backed by Transport for All.

"Since Sadiq became mayor, the proportion of step-free access Tube stations has increased from a quarter to a third, and this new plan will increase this to half."

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