Staff shortages see Angel tube closed for third time

Rush-hour commuters left stranded by abrupt closure

Friday, 15th July — By Joe Coughlan

Angel tube station IMG_6785

Angel tube station was closed on Wednesday

TUBE users were left stranded on Wednesday evening when Angel Underground station closed abruptly for the third time in five days as a result of staff shortages.

With no updates from Transport for London (TfL), rush-hour commuters were forced to source alternative routes as they found the station shut.

Vaishali Patel, a 52-year-old nail technician working in Islington Square, said: “I’m just wondering how to get home now. This is the first time I’ve seen Angel closed. I’ve been Googling because I have to meet a friend in Oxford Street, and it doesn’t say anything about the station being closed. That’s why I came here, otherwise I could have gone to Highbury.”

Ian Jones, 66, a company director, said: “This is the third time in the last five days that the station has been closed. It’s not the biggest station on the tube, but it’s certainly important for local residents. The overall impact on local businesses is negative.”

Natasha Mann, 28, a digital marketer for a charity, said: “This is my only route home. I live in south London so it’s a bit of a nightmare, I’m not sure how to get back now.

A sign explaining the problem to passengers

“It’s going to be a long journey. It’s been a long day at work. I’m very sleepy, and I just wanted to get home.”

Labour councillor Phil Graham, who worked as a tube driver for 28 years, said: “These closures are safety-related, each station has a minimum staffing level – if they don’t have that number, then they can’t open the station.”

According to Cllr Graham, staff shortages at large stations are typically solved by moving staff from a smaller station nearby: “If they don’t have the capacity to do that, then they are severely understaffed.”

While working on the Bakerloo and Central lines, Cllr Graham was a member of Aslef, Britain’s trade union for train drivers. As a result, he has supported TfL in their ongoing fight for greater government funding.

“TfL are trying to run a service. They lost a lot of revenue over the pandemic, but now they’re not getting the funding to back them up,” he said. “The solution is to either fund it properly, in order to give the appropriate number of staff, or start reducing the number of regulations.”

A TfL spokesperson said: “We apologise to Northern line customers for the disruption to their journeys, which was caused by Covid-related sickness over the past week. The closures on the Northern line have been minimised as far as possible and were done to prioritise nearby Old Street station, which is part of the same staffing pool and offers greater connectivity for customers.

“We strive to always exhaust all avenues before making the decision to close a station, and the local team is working to minimise any future closures.”

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