London commuters 'dreading' use of Tube as coronavirus lockdown slowly eases

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Before coronavirus, the London Tube or Underground carried up to 4 million passengers a day.

However as the U.K. slowly begins to ease its lockdown, there is growing concern about how to keep people safe while using it.

The government has already asked anybody who can avoid using the tube to do so, and walk or cycle instead.

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But despite this, rush hour has seen trains packed with workers and crammed buses -- with many people saying they simply have no other choice. Some commuters say they are "dreading" using the Tube again.

From now, all passengers will have to be a minimum of six feet apart, there will be ‘"rigorous cleaning regimes," hand sanitizer points along the network and "operational changes at stations to help keep everyone safe.”

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Commuters, some wearing masks are seen at Canning Town station, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 13, 2020.

Commuters, some wearing masks are seen at Canning Town station, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 13, 2020. (Reuters)

Among other suggestions are for businesses to stagger start times to reduce the effect on peak rush hour times.

Transport for London has also asked passengers to wear some form of face mask when using public transit in the capital, and plans are in place to drastically change how Londoners commute, with the aim to reduce capacity and demand on buses and the railway by 85 percent while increasing cycle lanes.

But Transport Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton on Wednesday urged the London Mayor Sadiq Khan to rapidly increase the number of services as a way of ensuring social distancing – with fewer trains meaning more people are forced to squeeze into carriages

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government would have to take steps if too many people packed onto buses and subways.

"We are asking people to be very sensible and not flood back to public transport," he said. "Even with all the trains and buses back to running when they are, there will not be enough space."

A man sits on a London underground train wearing a protective mask, in London, Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Sunday limited changes to the national lockdown to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

A man sits on a London underground train wearing a protective mask, in London, Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Sunday limited changes to the national lockdown to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (AP)

Fines for those who break the rules have been increased as part of a carrot-and-stick approach designed to ensure that people operate within the guidelines.

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National Police Chiefs' Council chairman Martin Hewitt said officers would "continue to use common sense and discretion" in policing the new rules, adding "The efforts of the public mean police officers have rarely had to enforce the government regulations so far. I am confident the vast majority will continue to do their bit and follow guidance in this next stage."