Londoners outraged as Underground trains packed despite coronavirus outbreak

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London’s transport authorities have been criticized after Underground trains were packed with people on Monday morning, despite government calls for people to stay at home, social distance and avoid using public transport. (Reuters)
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London’s transport authorities have been criticized after Underground trains were packed with people on Monday morning, despite government calls for people to stay at home, social distance and avoid using public transport. (Reuters)
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London’s transport authorities have been criticized after Underground trains were packed with people on Monday morning, despite government calls for people to stay at home, social distance and avoid using public transport. (Reuters)
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London’s transport authorities have been criticized after Underground trains were packed with people on Monday morning, despite government calls for people to stay at home, social distance and avoid using public transport. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 March 2020

Londoners outraged as Underground trains packed despite coronavirus outbreak

  • TfL urged Londoners not to travel unless their journey was “absolutely essential.”

LONDON: London’s transport authorities have been criticized after Underground trains were packed with people on Monday morning, despite government calls for people to stay at home, social distance and avoid using public transport during the coronavirus outbreak.

People took to social media to call the current transport situation in the UK capital “dangerous” and “unacceptable,” highlighting the increased exposure risk for the nation’s key workers.

Images and videos of the chaos led social media users to speculate that Londoners were not following government instructions issued in prime minister Boris Johnson’s daily briefings.

Transport for London (TfL) announced last week that 40 of its rail stations would close and a reduced service would be running with 15 trains per hour on its rail networks through central London.

It also urged Londoners not to travel unless their journey was “absolutely essential.”

There were also reduced services on national rail services coming into London for commuters who live outside the capital. 

But with many businesses remaining open for their staff and key healthcare workers in the UK capital needing to use the TfL network to travel to work, commuters have been forced to stand close to each other on packed trains exposing themselves to greater risk of contracting the virus.

Underground drivers also expressed anger at the amount of people still using the Underground during rush hour, according to Underground union bosses.

TfL said it had reduced its services in a hope of deterring people from using its services and wanted to limit the risk for their staff and drivers.

Despite the dire situation depicted in the images, TfL said on Friday there had been a 70 percent fall in the number of passengers on the Underground and a 40 percent reduction in passengers on its bus network.

A spokesperson from the Mayor of London’s office said: “Londoners should not be travelling by any mode of transport unless it is absolutely necessary, and only critical workers should be using public transport. The number of journeys on the Tube is down significantly compared to the same time last year, with an 87 percent reduction this weekend. 

“But we need Londoners to stop travelling. TfL will continue to do everything it can to provide a safe service but like many organisations it is dealing with rising absence levels and needs Londoners’ cooperation in these challenging times.”


US bans Pakistan’s PIA over pilot license scandal

Updated 10 min 23 sec ago

US bans Pakistan’s PIA over pilot license scandal

  • Follows a similar move by European Union aviation regulators to bar the state-run carrier for six months

KARACHI: The United States has banned Pakistan International Airlines from operating chartered flights to the country, the airline said, after it announced nearly 150 pilots would be grounded over fake or dubious licenses.
It follows a similar move by European Union aviation regulators to bar the state-run carrier for six months.
PIA said in a statement that the Federal Aviation Authority in the US had revoked approval for the airline due to “recent events identified by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority that are of serious concern to aviation safety.”
Pakistan’s aviation minister revealed in June that a government review had found around 260 of the country’s 860 active pilots hold fake licenses or cheated on exams.
PIA at the time said it would immediately ground about a third of its 434 pilots, just weeks after one of its planes crashed in Karachi killing 98 people — an accident blamed on pilot error.
So far 17 pilots have been fired in the first phase of its investigation, a PIA spokesman said.
The airline had suspended its commercial operations to the US in 2017 after booking financial losses on the route.
But in April the US Department of Transport granted it special permission to operate chartered flights for one year, largely to bring back stranded Pakistanis during the coronavirus lockdown.
Until the 1970s, Pakistan’s largest airline was considered a top regional carrier but its reputation plummeted amid chronic mismanagement, frequent cancelations and financial struggles.