Transport bosses have launched an urgent investigation after shocking images obtained by MailOnline show London Underground staff sleeping during the height of the morning rush hour, putting passenger safety at risk as commuters face misery with more strike action today.
In the disturbing pictures, staff can clearly be seen fast asleep while on duty in the control room of Tooting Bec underground station, south London where their role involves supervising passenger safety and responding to emergencies.
It comes as Tube workers are striking today in a dispute over pensions, job losses and contractual agreements which will virtually halt all services bringing misery for millions of commuters.
The action has been called by members of the RMT and Aslef unions and will also affect services going into Thursday morning, causing chaos across the capital.
The images were captured by gobsmacked commuters who fumed that seeing the sleeping workers as they rushed off to work has merely added to their anger as they struggle to cope with Tube strike misery.
In the disturbing pictures, staff can clearly be seen fast asleep while on duty in the control room of Tooting Bec underground station, south London
One passenger who took the pictures but did not want to be named, told MailOnline: ‘The strikes have been hell for us and seeing Tube staff fast asleep is a further insult. These workers are going on strike over their pensions but from what I’ve seen, some have already retried while they’re meant to be at work.
‘They’re not even trying to hide it by turning off the lights in the control room or something like that. While we suffer, they sleep.’
Another passenger added: ‘I was shocked because while we’re rushing off to work, Tube staff are having a nap and not even trying to hide it.
‘You see them quite often fast asleep while they’re sitting in the control room. Not only is this a serious safety risk but it’s also an insult to thousands of us who have been hugely inconvenienced by the Tube strikes.’
Control room staff are crucial for responding to incidents, such as fire, medical emergencies or people getting onto the tracks and are also responsible for limiting crowds if platforms get too busy.
The role of control room workers involves supervising passenger safety and responding to emergencies
A Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The safety of our customers and staff remains our top priority. We are looking into this issue as a priority as it does not fit with the high standards our colleagues usually demonstrate.’
Politicians in London also called on London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is responsible for the capital’s transport network, to investigate the matter urgently.
Shaun Bailey, Greater London Assembly (GLA) member who sits on its Transport Committee told MailOnline: ‘These images are shocking and fall well below the standards passengers expect from TfL staff.
‘Sadiq Khan has mismanaged TfL throughout his Mayoralty, and incidents like this prove that much more work needs to be done to ensure TfL is serving Londoners and keeping passengers safe.
‘Sadiq Khan and the TfL commissioner must urgently launch an investigation into this issue.’
Tooting Bec station, where the photos were taken by a commuter
The pictures were taken last Wednesday March 8 and the week before that on the same day at 6am.
The passenger who took them said: ‘It’s the start of the early commute and even at that time the station is very busy. It’s very common to see staff asleep.’
A spokesman for London TravelWatch, an organisation appointed by the GLA to independently monitor the capital’s transport network said: ‘TfL should have arrangements in place to ensure that if staff are required to carry out safety critical tasks, they are competent to do so and they are carried out effectively.’
Raising concerns that sleeping staff are putting their safety at risk, one passenger asked: ‘If something was to happen and TfL staff are asleep in the control room then how would they raise the alarm?
‘Being in the control room is a very important job but staff sleeping when they’re meant to be at work is highly dangerous.
‘This is not acceptable at a time when we’ve all been hugely impacted by the strikes.’