London's transport system 'could be swamped' if social distancing rules apply after lockdown


London’s transport system could be ‘rapidly overwhelmed’ if social distancing rules still apply after lockdown, according to a briefing for emergency planners.

The warning was given in a presentation on likely scenarios to London’s Strategic Coordination Group, organising the capital’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Transport for London believes the re-opening of schools would be enough to swamp the bus network, leaving no room for essential workers like NHS staff. School children account for 1.5m journeys on London buses on a normal weekday.

Officials think it's impossible to maintain the two-metre social distancing rule on a major urban transport network.

A sign at an entrance to the Underground station at London's Paddington Station

An SCG source told ITV News the briefing document set out the risks, including additional pressure on the police, but further work was needed to come up with a workable plan.

Ideas include government media campaigns to encourage continued working from home, persuading more schoolchildren to walk or cycle and, as ‘a last resort’, queuing procedures at Tube and rail stations.

City Hall wants government scientists to advise on whether face masks offer enough protection to reduce the two metre social distancing range.

In an interview with ITV News Mayor Sadiq Khan hinted at possible travel restrictions on some Londoners based on their age or where they live.