Covid fears blamed for surge in falls on London's Tube

London (AFP) –


London Underground operators have reported a surge in escalator accidents, as wary passengers shun the handrail for fear of catching Covid-19, British media said Friday.

The Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard said there were 12 serious injuries on the Tube network between April and June, and 23 on buses -- more than any quarter throughout 2020-21.

An end to lockdown restrictions and a return to pubs and socialising has increased the number of drunken revellers on nights out, worsening the situation, the newspapers added.

"The two biggest risks we have are falls on escalators caused by people who don't hold the handrail," Transport for London (TfL) managing director Andy Lloyd said.

"There is an issue with the perception that the handrail is not clean because of the pandemic," he was quoted as telling a safety panel this week.

"The other big issue is intoxication," he added, with "particular spikes" in accidents on Thursday and Friday nights, and weekends.

Passenger numbers on London's underground trains and buses have returned to near pre-pandemic levels since stay-at-home rules were lifted in England in July.

Services were near empty after the pandemic hit Britain in early 2020, but TfL intensified its cleaning regime across the network.

The transport operator, which is overseen by the Mayor of London's office, plans to extend the installation of ultraviolet light devices to kill the virus.