7 Tube nightmares that need to be addressed NOW

It’s not just the unbearable heat…

“Commuter chaos”, “Tube misery”, “Signal failure”, “Tube strike” – I’m sick of running headlines like this on LondonLovesBusiness.com.

We’ve time and again celebrated the Tube’s accomplishments – from London Underground’s 150-year birthday to safety campaigns and the amazing different versions of the Tube map.

But official stats reveal several disappointments that the Tube has caused Londoners. Take a look at a few here:

1. Unbearable heat

I had to get off a Bakerloo Line train this morning because I couldn’t breathe in the hot and heaving train. And I grew up in Delhi which gets *pretty* hot - the temperature there is 33 degrees today - so it’s not that I can’t handle high temperatures.

I’m not alone in my gripe about the Tube. One look at Twitter and you’ll find hundreds of Londoners complaining about suffocation, fainting and throwing up, thanks to the heat on the Tube today.

Take a look at some of the temperatures recorded yesterday:

1. Central Line at Liverpool Street - 34C

2. Central Line at Oxford Circus - 32C

3. Bakerloo Line at Baker Street - 31.7C


2. Overcrowding and Tube delays

Overcrowding Oxford Circus

In January this year, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by LondonLovesBusiness.com revealed that Londoners have been delayed almost 900 times since 2010 because of overcrowding on the Tube.

Figures showed that the Central Line saw the maximum number (158) of delays due to overcrowding since 2010. The Jubilee Line has seen 148 delays, and the Victoria Line has seen 129 delays in total since 2010.

Overcrowding has caused Tube delays on average 169.4 times a year in this period.

In an incident of overcrowding in April, hundreds of Londoners were stranded outside Oxford Circus Station after it had to be shut due to the large volume of passengers.


3. Lost customer hours

Mind the delays!

The number of lost customer hours on the Tube have increased from 1.68 million to 1.76 million. 

Between July and October 2014 the number of stations closed stood at 40, compared to 56, a year ago.


4. Rise in sexual assaults on the Tube

Tube drunk disorderly

In 2014/15, the number of sexual offences on the Tube increased by 34.7% compared to 2013/14.

Figures from Transport for London (TfL) showed London Underground and the DLR recorded 567 sexual offences in that period, up from 429 in 2013/14.

Another Freedom of Information request by us found that there have been 4,772 drunk and disorderly arrests on the Tube since 2003. Responding to the figures, transport union bosses said that the introduction of the Night Tube in September “will raise drunkenness, violence, and sexual assaults off the scale”.


5. Strike threats despite Tube drivers getting a handsome pay

Tube driver’s salary: £49,673, nearly £15,000 more than the average London salary

In London, Tube strike threats come as often as the rain. Just yesterday, transport unions, the RMT and the TSSA, confirmed industrial action for next week.

The strike begins at 6.30pm on Wednesday, July 8 with services not returning to normal until July 9 at 6.30pm.

Members of the union will also participate in the planned 24-hour walkout by members of the drivers’ union Aslef, from 9.30pm on July 8.

The reason? A pay dispute.

According to TfL, the current Tube driver salary is almost £50,000. This is nearly £15,000 more than the average London salary. Drivers typically work a 36 hour week, and have 43 days of leave every year.


6. £100m stuck on unused Oyster cards

Oyster card Tube fares

Currently, TfL is holding £100m of Oyster card money that has been left unclaimed for more than two years.

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Lib-Dem London Assembly Group, has been campaigning for years to make it easy for Londoners to claim their money.


7. Finally, the astonishing rise in Tube prices

From January this year, transport fares in London increased by an average of 2.5%.

Take a look at these graphs below to fathom the unbelievable rise in Tube fares since 2000:

Monthly travelcards gif


Oyster pay as you go single


Underground cash single

More graphs here:

Train Carnage

6 graphs that show the astonishing rise in Tube fares since 2000




Now read:

Readers' comments (1)

  • In 2003 Ken offered £100k to anyone who could cool down the Tube, it was never claimed. Unlike the Sub Surface Lines that are currently getting the new S Stock you can’t air-condition trains in the deep level tunnels, there’s not enough space for the heat to dissipate so the tunnel walls would act like an oven.

    The main source of heat is the motors that drive the wheels, new lighter trains on the Piccadilly, Central, Bakerloo and W&C Lines will mean the motors need as much output and won’t generate as much heat which should make things a little more bearable.

    The only way to reduce delays is to carry out more maintenance on signals, tack, trains, etc. That would require more staff and/or more time to carry out the work, with TfL’s budget being cut back by the Treasury and running trains all night at the weekend it seems unlikely you’ll see much improvement.

    In 2014/15 there were 1.3bn journey made on the Tube, the chance of being subject to a sexual assault was roughly 1 in 2.3m every time you got on the Tube, you’re probably safer on the Tube than you are walking home from the station. Boris banned drinking alcohol on the Tube but unless someone is obviously intoxicated staff cannot refuse passengers at the ticket barriers.

    The potential strike is not about pay as such, it’s about LU imposing a new timetable that will include Night Tube that breaks all existing agreements. Tube drivers get paid around the same as other UK train drivers working for private sector TOCs, London Overground get £54k, C2C get £45k, Chiltern £49.

    Rather than the strike starting at 6:30pm for station staff and 9:30pm for train drivers that is when staff will stop booking on, what this means is that around 11pm stations will start closing and last trains will run earlier as the night shifts fails to turn up. When Boris was running for Mayor in 2008 he pledged to negotiate a no strike deal, seven years later he’s never sat down with any of the unions’ representatives.

    I know nothing about Oyster Cards not do I want to, I’ll stick to driving a train but Boris had a choice of keeping fares down or reducing his share of council tax, he chose to reduce council tax, fares went up and on average we got £5-£10 off our council tax bill every year. Hooray......

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