Transport for London changes its tune

Boris Johnson on the London Underground earlier this year. Photo: LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages

Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, is not normally lost for words. But for once the most high-profile local British politician has fallen silent. Transport for London has confirmed it has stopped playing a pre-recorded message by Mr Johnson.

The recording was aimed at encouraging Londoners to replan their journeys to allow for a deluge of visitors expected during the Olympics. The message, which warned of “huge pressure on the transport network” was pulled on Tuesday, a move which coincided with reports that overzealous warnings by TfL had scared people off coming to central London and had damaged business.

Tfl denied however that the move was anything to do with suggestions the capital had become a “ghost town”, pointing to a big jump in passengers on the Underground network, up 10.5 per cent on Tuesday over a normal weekday during the quieter summer period.

“We had always planned to stop playing [the recordings] once we were through the first major test on Monday, when commuters and Olympic spectators were travelling the network together for the first time,” a spokesperson said. “The fact that people have been sensible, looked at the advice, listened to the announcements and planned ahead is good news. It’s allowed TfL to keep London moving”.

Mr Johnson’s message, which rang out across the Underground network and on London buses, had annoyed many Londoners, leading to a Twitter campaign to get it stopped under a rather harsh hash tag, which we shall not repeat here.