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Revealed: Why a slice of burnt toast and a hand pump was bad news for commuters

Data reveals reasons behind non-emergency Tube closures in west London over three years, with strike action topping a list which includes burnt food

Burnt food in staff quarters resulted in the closure of west London Tube stations , new data reveals.

Findings obtained by London Assembly member Tony Devenish show Underground stations in his London Central constituency, which covers Westminster , Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Chelsea , were closed almost 800 times during operational hours over the past three years for non-emergency and safety reasons.

That is a combined total of 222 days or 5,300 hours.

Industrial action (see video above) accounted for 334 (41%) closures while non-availability of staff was the second biggest issue, with 220 closures making up 27%.

Underground stations in west London have been closed for a variety of reason(Image: Getty Images Europe)

Defective lifts at Edgware Road, Regents Park, Queensway, Covent Garden and Lancaster Gate caused 49 closures, with 390 people stuck in elevators for various lengths of time.

Incidents of note, which include safety and security, include:

  • Victoria, Sloane Square, Wood Lane and Oxford Circus closed because burnt toast or food in the staff mess room had set off fire alarm.
  • An unexploded Second World War bomb found on nearby building site closing White City and Wood Lane.
  • People breaking a lift in Covent Garden by jumping up and down in it.
  • A security alert at a K&C station caused by an unattended sealed container which turned out to be a home brewing kit.
  • A suspicious item at a K&C station which resembled a hand grenade but was in fact part of a hand pump.

Mr Devenish said: “One of the biggest complaints I hear from my residents is unexpected closures of their local tube stations and with almost 800 non-emergency closures in three years it’s easy to see why.

“Sadiq Khan’s polices are unlikely to tackle the stations three leading reasons for closures – industrial action, non-availability of staff and defective lifts.

“He is already on course to have the worst strikes record of any London Mayor and his £640 million partial fares freeze could impact on infrastructure such as lift upgrades.

“Commuters who rely on these stations on a daily basis will expect more and I will push the Mayor to come forward with sensible solutions to these issues.”

Industrial action is the biggest non-emergency reason for station closures(Image: @roffmanmagician)

But Mr Devenish’s comments were dismissed as “absolute nonsense” by a spokesperson for the London mayor, who said most of the strikes occurred on the watch of predecessor Boris Johnson.

A statement said: “Of the five instances of industrial action in these figures, four took place while Boris Johnson was mayor and before Sadiq was elected.

“The overall number of days lost to strike action has actually fallen by 40 per cent since Sadiq became Mayor.

“He also ordered a review into the previous mayor’s approach to staffing stations, and as a result TfL is introducing at least 650 new station staff members to the Underground this year.”

Borough summaries

Westminster

561 closures, totalling 133 days / 3,200 hours

Industrial action: 193 closures / 116 days / 2,788 hours

Non-availability of staff: 171 closures / 8.8 days / 211 hours

Defective lifts at Edgware Road, Regents Park, Queensway, Covent Garden and Lancaster Gate: 49 closures / 2 days / 47 hours

Worst station: Temple (58 closures)

Kensington and Chelsea

137 closures, totalling 47 days / 1,142 hours

Industrial action: 71 closures / 43 days / 1,034 hours

Non-availability of staff: 41 closures / 2.8 days / 69 hours

Worst station: Holland Park (42 closures)

Hammersmith and Fulham

101 closures, totalling 42 days / 1,016 hours

Industrial action: 70 closures / 30 days / 725 hours

Non-availability of staff: 8 closures / 6 days / 150 hours

Worst station: Fulham Broadway (20 closures)

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