As Govt restrictions ease further, TfL is ready to welcome back those returning to London

13 May 2021
"We are looking forward to welcoming customers back to our network, and are operating near-normal levels of service to support social distancing."

With further easing of Government lockdown restrictions coming into effect on Monday 17 May, Transport for London (TfL) is issuing information to help customers make the most of the increased leisure activities that will be available, including the reopening of museums, other cultural attractions and indoor dining.

A near-normal service continues across the public transport network and a wide range of active travel options are available, including Santander Cycles and protected cycling and walking routes, especially in central London and the West End.

With many customers already returning to the transport network since restrictions began to ease, TfL's enhanced cleaning regime continues to ensure the network is cleaner than ever. Trains, trams, buses and stations are cleaned with hospital-grade cleaning substances that kill viruses and bacteria on contact and provide ongoing protection. Independent testing by Imperial College London has been carried out monthly since September, taking swabs of touch points in stations, buses and air samples in ticket halls and has found no traces of coronavirus on the transport network.  More than 1,000 hand sanitisers are installed across the network, and 200 UV light devices are continually sanitising escalator handrails. 

The transport network is also well ventilated. Train and bus doors opening frequently ensures a regular exchange of air across the public transport network, while the constant movement of trains draws fresh air into the system. In the deeper Tube lines, ventilation shafts and fans supplement this air movement. Buses, which are cleaned daily, have been modified to keep windows propped open and are also fitted with a range of air extraction and ventilation systems. These systems, in conjunction with leaving windows open and the frequent opening of doors, ensure the flow of fresh air through the vehicle.  

TfL is running a full and comprehensive bus network of around 8,000 buses every day. After consultation with the DfT, and in line with bus services across the country, the capacity of buses will be doubled on 17 May. From Monday, most seats on buses can be used, with the capacity of double-decker buses increasing to around 60. This will enable more people to travel on the bus network as Government restrictions continue to ease. Rear-facing seats in bays will be blocked off to continue to reduce the risk of transmission.

TfL Travel Ambassadors in magenta tabards will be on hand at key locations to welcome people back to the transport network and to help everyone travel safely. One-way systems and extensive signage on trains, trams, buses and stations will help maintain social distancing.

TfL is encouraging customers to make journeys at quieter times to help spread demand across the day. These are currently between 08:15 and 16:00 and after 17:30 during the week, and before noon and after 18:00 at weekends. Journey data will continue to be monitored so that TfL can communicate any changes to the quieter times to customers. The latest service information will be available online and through TfL travel tools including the free TfL Go app. TfL Go enables customers to access live updates and train times for every station, as well as information on the quieter times to travel.

The introduction of new May rail timetables will see some minor changes to train times on TfL Rail, London Overground and Bakerloo line services, and customers who use these services are advised to check before they travel.

Andy Byford, London's Transport Commissioner, said: "Like many, I cannot wait to meet friends and family in London's pubs and restaurants, or to head to a stadium or theatre to experience live entertainment with others. These are some of the things that make London great, and our public transport enables everyone to experience them. We are looking forward to welcoming customers back to our network, and are operating near-normal levels of service to support social distancing.

"We're ensuring public transport is cleaner than ever with staff on hand to offer advice, assist and help keep everyone safe. And we're advising customers to travel at the quieter times if they can to spread demand across the day."

As more people return to the network there will be occasions when social distancing will not be possible. Users of frequent Tube, bus and rail services are advised to consider waiting for the next service if necessary.

TfL has been working with businesses throughout the pandemic to help spread peaks in demand. As a result, many employers have enabled their staff to stagger their journey times and many workers have been travelling at different times or taking different routes to work.

Face coverings must continue to be worn, covering both the mouth and nose, in stations, on platforms and for the full duration of a journey, unless an exemption applies. While compliance continues to be high, TfL's enforcement officers, as well as both the Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police, will be highly visible to ensure customers remain safe by stopping people without exemptions from using public transport until they put on a face covering. Tough action is taken on those who do not comply. To date around 172,000 customers have been stopped from travelling with around 3,300 receiving a fixed penalty notice. TfL will be handing out free face coverings at key interchange stations. 

Londoners are encouraged to use active travel options such as walking and cycling for all or part of their journey. Legible London signs across the city provides local information, potential routes for those walking and cycling, including Santander Cycles and nearby docking stations.

TfL is operating a near-normal service across the network to help social distancing for those who need to travel, but like other businesses, could be affected by staff absence. This could mean some changes to service frequency or some short-notice station closures. The latest service information will be available online and through TfL travel tools including the TfL Go app.  Customers are advised to check their journey before they travel. 

Notes to editors
•    From Monday, indoor dining can resume as well as indoor entertainment such as museums, cinemas and other cultural attractions. All remaining outdoor entertainment can also reopen, such as outdoor cinemas and performances as well as some larger events including concerts and sports events.
•    More information about face coverings and exemptions is available at:
•    The full report from Imperial College London on the testing across the transport network can be found here:
•    The new capacities of buses will vary depending on the size and model of bus, but the capacity of the typical double-decker bus will increase to around 60, while the average single-decker bus will increase to around 28.

Timetable changes
•    From Sunday 16 May, there will be some changes to timetables on Rail and Tube services. We are advising customers who usually travel at a particular time to check before they travel as their usual train times may have changed.
•    On the London Overground from Sunday 16 May we will be reinstating a full timetable of four trains per hour during peak times between London Liverpool Street and Bush Hill Park and Enfield Town. From Monday 21 June, we will also be reinstating a full timetable on the North London line (Richmond/Clapham Junction to Stratford). This means that ten trains per hour will operate between Willesden Junction and Stratford during peak times rather than the current eight.

On TfL Rail services from Sunday 16 May there are some changes to services.
•    On the east between Liverpool Street and Shenfield between 06:30-10:00 and 16:00-19:30 on weekdays trains in both directions will stop at all stations, every 4-6 minutes.There are also some minor changes to the timing of early morning and late evening weekday trains. There are no changes to the times of weekend services. Platform extensions at Liverpool Street station are now complete to allow longer trains to operate.
•    On the west between Paddington and Heathrow/ Hayes & Harlington, there are also some changes to the timetables meaning that train times will change. Customers travelling to Heathrow from Acton Mainline will no longer have to change trains.

On the Bakerloo line from Sunday 16 May there will be small reductions to off-peak frequencies, with additional time allocated for trains and train operators to turn around at the end of the route to help improve reliability. There are no changes to frequencies at peak times, when trains will continue to run up to every three minutes.
•    Services between Queen's Park and Elephant & Castle will be reduced from 19 trains per hour to 16 trains per hour outside of peak time on weekdays and in the evenings.
•    Services between Stonebridge Park and Queen's Park will be reduced from 9 trains per hour to 8 trains per hour and services between Harrow & Wealdstone and Stonebridge Park will be reduced from 6 trains per hour to 4 trains per hour at all off peak periods, which includes Saturday and Sunday. Four trains per hour will continue to run on London Overground services between Watford Junction and Euston at all times, which share the tracks with the Bakerloo line between Queen's Park and Harrow & Wealdstone
•    On Sundays, there will be 16 trains per hour between Queen's Park and Elephant & Castle all day (previously 15 trains per hour in the morning and 18 in the afternoon).
•    On Saturdays there is no change to the 20 trains per hour service between Queen's Park and Elephant & Castle.

TfL always keeps its service levels under review, and it will continue to do so as London moves out of the pandemic and any longer-term effects on ridership become clear

More information on timetable changes, events and planned works can be found here.