Transport bosses aiming to convince commute is safe for workers

Video report by ITV London Political Correspondent Simon Harris

Transport bosses are trying to convince workers that is safe to undertake their daily commute.

Commuters are being told that it is safe to travel on public transport to get back into the capital but few are returning to their usual working environment.

The number of train services have been increased, as travel bosses look to instil confidence in those travelling.

Mayor Sadiq Khan told ITV London: “It’s really important that you avoid the rush hour if you possibly can.

"Why? Because we can’t ever return to the cheek by jowl use of the tube, the bus, the tram, the overground in the rush hour we had before, as this virus travels quickly when you’re in close proximity to someone else."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Even within those travelling to the office on a regular basis at the moment, there is concern that an increase in people on public transport would put them off."A point in time where every seat is taken and people are standing, that would be a concern," one commuter told ITV London.

Department for Transport (DfT) figures show demand for rail travel was around 30% of pre-pandemic levels last week.

The RDG said anecdotal evidence suggests there was a slight increase in passenger numbers on Monday but no trains were reported as being close to their reduced capacity.

Transport for London said 700,000 passengers used the London Underground – which is separate from the rail network – on Monday from the start of service until 10am.

An empty King's Cross St Pancras in London. Credit: Kavita Patel

This was 15% higher than during the same period on the first working day of last week, but still 68% lower than the equivalent day in 2019.

Mainline rail timetables were slashed in March as the virus led to a reduction in available railway workers and demand for travel, but were gradually increased to around 80% before being ramped up on Monday.

Southeastern is providing an extra 900 carriages on its weekday services, restoring services to 98% of normal levels.

LNER added 10 extra Anglo-Scottish services to its daily timetables.

ScotRail increased services last month ahead of lessons resuming at Scottish schools.

One of the other concerns with the lack of people travelling to areas reliant on workers to fund its economy, potentially resulting in irreparable damage.

Housing Minister Robert Jenrick told ITV London: "I think that London is at an inflection point now where if this autumn and winter we don’t see the custom, the footfall, we could see permanent damage to the city and everything it has to offer."