False claim: Photos of crowds on London public transport taken on May 12

A post on Facebook with over 1,300 shares shows a series of images accompanied by text stating that the pictures show crowds on London public transport on May 12. This claim is false.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The claim (here) comes as several British news outlets reported London tube lines were busy following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Sunday May 10 that some people should return to work (here) .

The image shared in the Facebook post is a collage of four photographs, each showing commuters seemingly not adhering to social distancing on the London Underground and on train platforms.

The image was uploaded to Facebook on May 12 with the caption: “London trains today god bless the English people”.

This is false. Although the photos do show commuters in the capital, they were taken months or years before the given date.

The photo on the top left of the collage shows passengers waiting at London Waterloo Station. It was first published by local newspaper Surrey Live on May 14, 2019 in an article about train delays at London Waterloo.

In the article, the photo is credited to “Tom Smurthwaite / SurreyLive” and has a caption that confirms it shows “passengers at London Waterloo station on Tuesday (May 14)” (here) .

On the bottom left of the collage, there is a photograph of crowds walking down a London Underground platform. A reverse image search reveals this is a stock image that is consistently credited to SWNS media agency. It appears in articles, typically about air pollution on the Underground, such as this one from January 2, 2020 (here) .

The photo on the bottom right shows passengers standing on an underground platform. As noted on the Getty Image website, this was taken by photojournalist Oli Scarff on April 29, 2014, not May 12, 2020. (here)

The fourth photo, on the top right of the collage, shows passengers waiting on a train platform. The photo has been published in several articles stating it was taken on March 24, 2020 and in London.

The articles, in which the photo is credited to “abb_igotadream/Triangle News”, highlight the issue of overcrowding on public transport after the UK was put into lockdown on March 23 (here ) (here).


False: The photographs were not taken on May 12, 2020, but several months or years previously.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .