People on a Central Line train on the London Underground during the extreme heat on Tuesday

UK travel: Transport for London to close Central Line from 5pm in last minute decision

Rush-hour commuters face travel chaos tonight with the London Underground’s Central line set to close from 5pm – before a full closure at 6.30pm.

Transport for London (TfL) said the late decision, which was only announced at 1.15pm today, is due to a lack of available control room staff due to illness.

Transport bosses are advising passengers traveling to the capital to complete their journey as soon as possible as there will be no services available.

TfL apologized for the disruption, but passengers were furious that they only received four hours’ notice before closing, which is likely to lead to travel chaos.

One, Stephanie Hayden, tweeted: “What a shame. TfL has just sent an email saying the central line will close at 5.30pm today due to ‘staffing issues’. It’s a working day in the capital. @MayorofLondon keep your head in shame.

Another Londoner, Kelly Muggs, knocked on the hour and said: ‘TfL now thinks it’s OK to tell you at 1.14pm that the central line closes at 5.30pm. YOU ARE A SHAME.

She added: ‘So @TfL @MayorofLondon again it doesn’t matter if you have plans – you COULD go home SAFE but ultimately you don’t care. It’s appalling.

People on a Central Line train on the London Underground during the extreme heat on Tuesday

Transport for London announced the closure of the Central Line in an email at 1.15pm today

Transport for London announced the closure of the Central Line in an email at 1.15pm today

A message believed to have been sent by Des Friel, service control manager for the Central and Waterloo & City lines, was tweeted at 12.20pm today about the closure.

The note read: ‘Unfortunately, due to high levels of illness, we will be suspending the central line tonight. The last trains through central London will leave at approximately 6:00 p.m. westbound from Liverpool Street and 6:00 p.m. eastbound from White City.

“If we manage to find additional SRT staff, we will organize a shuttle service between Leytonstone and EPP / Hainaut only. Once we have confirmed timetables and train numbers for the latest trains, we will share them with you.

‘SRT’ stands for Special Requirements Team – part of TfL which provides a team of mobile station staff for upgrades and projects – and ‘EPP’ stands for Epping Station.

The news was originally announced by Greater Anglia in a 12.30pm tweet that some on Twitter thought was a month old, following the RMT Tube strike on June 21.

Some passengers were furious that they received only four hours' notice of closure

Some passengers were furious that they received only four hours’ notice of closure

The tweet read: “Please note that the London Underground Central Line will be closed from 5.00pm today with a full closure expected at 6.30pm.” TfL advises completing the journey as soon as possible as there will be no service available.

But Greater Anglia confirmed to MailOnline that the tweet was correctly posted and was based on advice given to the operator by Transport for London’s control room.

TfL also confirmed to MailOnline that the information was correct and that communications from passengers announcing the late notification change would follow soon.

But it took until 1.15pm for the news to be announced in an email, which read: ‘The central line will close early today due to staffing issues in the control room, caused by illness. Full journeys from central London by 5.30pm.

“After that, no trains will run on most of the line except for a shuttle service between Leytonstone and Epping/Hainault until the end of the day.”

A message believed to have been sent by Des Friel, Service Control Manager for the Central and Waterloo & City lines, was tweeted at 12:20 p.m. today about the Central line closing

A message believed to have been sent by Des Friel, Service Control Manager for the Central and Waterloo & City lines, was tweeted at 12:20 p.m. today about the Central line closing

TfL has confirmed that two shuttle services will operate after 5.30pm as follows:

  • CL4: Stratford (city bus station) to Leyton and Walthamstow Central, for connection with Victoria line and London Overground to/from central London
  • CL5: Stratford (regional bus station) to Leytonstone for connection with the Epping/Hainault rail shuttle service

Tfl routes also advised passengers to use other trains, metros and buses, including:

  • Elizabeth line services to Ilford/Manor Park for local bus services to Newbury Park
  • Piccadilly line services at Park Royal for the Hanger Lane area
  • Piccadilly line services to North Ealing for the West Acton area
  • Victoria line or London Overground services to Walthamstow Central for local bus services to the Leyton area

The statement added: ‘Plan ahead, check before you travel and allow more time for your trip. We apologize for the disruption to your trip.

The tweets above were all posted before TfL officially confirmed the shutdown at 1.15pm.

The tweets above were all posted before TfL officially confirmed the shutdown at 1.15pm.

“Wearing face masks is no longer mandatory on our services, but we continue to strongly recommend wearing one if you can.”

It comes after major disruptions over the past three days at London King’s Cross, Euston and St Pancras as engineers repaired damage caused by the 40C (104F) heat.

Although Covid rates have been surging in recent weeks, causing workplace chaos across the UK, the number of infections is no higher in London than anywhere else.

Reliable surveillance data shows that around 5% of people living in the capital were infected last week, matching the national average.

Cases were higher in the east of England, the West Midlands and the South West, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Experts now believe the current wave has peaked in recent days, meaning it is now receding naturally – with no restrictions being introduced.

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