Central Line to close at rush hour today due to shortage of staff

People travelling on the Central line during the heatwave on July 19 (Picture: EPA)

Londoners can breathe a sigh of relief after a U-turn on the closure of London Underground’s Central Line tonight.

Transport for London confirmed earlier that the line would shut during rush hour, with people advised to complete their journeys by 5.30pm on Thursday.

Staff sickness was blamed, causing shortages in the control room – but the Central will now stay open, with other workers filling in for those who are ill.

A TfL spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘We have found cover and the line will run as normal this evening.’

The move had sparked outrage among commuters who named it ‘a bit of a joke’.

One Twitter user named Arun Joseph had asked: ‘How does TfL expect people to get home from work? How do patients get to appointments and back?’

Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Wes Streeting, had said ‘passengers deserve better’, adding: ‘This is a totally unacceptable level of service from TfL.’

He promised to raise it with TfL and Sadiq Khan, but later tweeted: ‘Just had an update that the Central Line service will now run as @TfL have now managed to cover staff absence.

‘Have deleted my original tweet to avoid risk of confusion. Thanks to @MayorofLondon’s team for the prompt response.’

The news was first reported by Greater Anglia early this afternoon and later confirmed in a 1.15pm email from TfL to people who signed up for updates.

Not TFL waiting for everyone to be in office to then say central line will be closing down for today from 5:30pm lol

— #LoudItPodcast (@Nneddy121) July 21, 2022

People were advised to complete their journeys early or take another route if they need to use the Central Line, connecting east and west London, later tonight.

Other tube lines were likely to be affected too, with increased passenger numbers due to people trying to find alternative routes.

A statement from TfL had said: ‘Plan ahead, check before you travel and leave more time for your journey. We apologise for the disruption to your journey.’

The company emailed customers advising they could use the Elizabeth, Victoria or Piccadilly lines instead depending on their destinations.

The Central Line, marked in red on the tube map, is one of the capital’s deep lines. It ruins from Epping, Essex, in the north-east of the capital to Ealing Broadway and West Ruislip in west London.

It is a key route that many use to get home after work, with connections at major central stations including Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road.

TfL has struggled since the Covid pandemic, with The Department for Transport (DfT) providing around £5 billion in emergency funds since May 2020.

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