Issue to top agenda at Build UK meeting this morning

The issue of construction workers packing onto Tube trains to get to sites in London will be top of the agenda at a Build UK meeting later this morning – with images of overcrowding on the network continuing to surface on social media.

The industry has been told to cut the amount of workers using the underground or risk the government shutting down sites in the capital.

Contractors have promised to stagger start times and increase the amount of car parking space at sites to relieve congestion on the network.

Congested stations include Vauxhall in south London as well as stations in the east especially Stratford, West Ham and Canning Town.

But yesterday morning, there appeared to be continued overcrowding at several stations, with trains on the Jubilee line understood to be particularly full.

Some have suggested additional measures to cut congestion could include London Underground limiting the number of entrants at well-known hotspots while another worker said on Twitter: “All they need is [to] scrap the congestion charge and give free parking to construction workers. [It] keeps people in work, who [are] 90% self employed so [they] don’t get paid if [they] don’t work and [it] stops congestion on tubes.”

One firm said blaming images of crammed carriages on construction alone was wrong. “Other industries wear hi-vis jackets, those working in warehouses for example. We’ll get more of an idea of how things are going later this week. The issue isn’t about covid security on sites, it’s about crowded trains and stations.”

Last week the government told construction bosses that if they could not reduce the amount of staff using the network between 6am and 8am, sites across the capital could be forced to shut.

An emergency summit on the issue was held on Friday afternoon with around 40 chief executives of London’s biggest contractors along with officials from the business department and representatives from London Underground working out how to cut the number of builders using the network.

One source who attended the meeting said: “There was a threat that construction might have to shut down in London, it was definitely not an empty threat. We had CLC, Build UK, LU, all the big contractors were there. Everyone’s got to work together, you’ve got to work to get as many people off the network as possible, certainly between 5.45am and 8.45am and we monitor it daily.”

Transport secretary Grant Shapps is receiving daily bulletins on the number of people using the Tube as part of the government’s monitoring of the situation.