Surge in accidents on tube as passengers scared to hold handrail

Surge in accidents on tube as passengers scared to hold handrail
Escalator falls are ‘biggest risk from a personal injury perspective’, says managing director

A London Underground chief has warned that there’s been a surge in personal injuries on TFL’s network this spring and summer – thought to be due to passengers being nervous about holding on to handrails during the pandemic.

There were 12 serious injuries on the Tube network between April and June, and 23 on buses, which was “a total greater than any quarter throughout 2020/21”.

The amount of accidents happening on the Underground network is also suspected to be due to intoxication, with more people heading out on the town since many social restrictions were lifted across the city in mid-July.

Speaking on a TFL panel about safety this week, London Underground managing director Andy Lord said: “The two biggest risks we have are falls on escalators caused by people who don’t hold the handrail. There is an issue with the perception that the handrail is not clean because of the pandemic.

“The other bigger issue is actually intoxication. We have seen a significant spike as the various stages of lockdown have been reduced, with particular spikes initially on Thursday and Friday evenings and then weekends.”

Earlier this week, The Independent reported that some Tube trains are still restricting seating, citing Covid distancing guidelines, two months after most pandemic-related restrictions were eased.

TfL has plans to expand a trial, launched last year, that attaches anti-viral ultraviolet light devices to hand rails to eradicate traces of the virus.

Repeated testing by Imperial College London experts has failed to find traces of Covid on the network.

A TfL spokesman said 93 escalators had been fitted with the UV anti-viral units, with a further 340 devices due to be installed by the end of 2021.

“We are spending a huge amount of time and money and resources cleaning the hand rail, as well as the UV cleaners that are being steadily rolled out across the entire network. We are looking at what further communications we can do to raise awareness of that,” said Lord.