Tube line closed for rest of year because of staff shortages due to Covid

·2-min read

Transport chiefs have been forced to close a Tube line because of driver shortages due to Covid.

The Waterloo and City line will shut from Thursday until early January to enable drivers to be switched onto the Central line to keep that running.

About 500 “non-office based” Transport for London staff are currently absent due to Covid and there are staffing problems across all Underground lines.

The two lines share the same pool of drivers but the Waterloo and City line is only a shuttle between Waterloo and Bank stations, while the Central line is one of the busiest lines on the entire Underground network and serves Oxford Street.

 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

The announcement from TfL on Wednesday is further evidence of how Omicron which is estimated to be responsible for more 90 per cent of Covid cases in the capital, is forcing thousands of Londoners to isolate.

The Waterloo and City line only reopened in June after a 15-month shutdown since the start of the pandemic.

It is seen by the Corporation of London and City businesses as a key commuter link to the Square Mile financial district.

 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

But the number of Londoners travelling to work in central London offices has plummeted since Boris Johnson advised people to work from home to help curb the spread of Omicron.

Morning rush hour Tube journeys have fallen below 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, with further drop off expected in the approach to Christmas.

A TfL spokesperson said: “Like many businesses and organisations around the country, we are experiencing the effects of the pandemic with a number of staff ill due to Covid or self-isolating.

 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

“Since the Government advised people to work from home, we have seen fewer customers commuting and the coming festive period will reduce ridership further.

“The Central line has remained busier than the Waterloo & City line, which is currently experiencing very low demand, so our Waterloo & City line drivers will be driving Central line trains to ensure we can continue to provide a good service where there is greater demand. As a result, services on the Waterloo & City line will be suspended on Thursday until early January.

“Customers will still have a wide range of travel options, and while we continue to do all we can to keep operating a normal service, we advise everyone to check our website and the TfL Go app before they travel as other services may be affected at short notice by staff absences.”

A total of 103 TfL staff and contractors have died with Covid during the pandemic.

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