Escalator falls at tube stations have increased because Britons are frightened of catching coronavirus if they hold onto the handrails, a London Underground official has said. Managing Director of London Underground Andy Lord told a Transport for London (TfL) safety panel said the underground railway’s biggest risk of harm is: “falls on escalators caused by people who don’t hold the handrail. There is an issue with the perception that the handrail is not clean because of the pandemic.” Mr Lord also said that the second most significant factor to blame for the injuries was drunkenness, saying in comments reported by The Telegraph on Thursday: “The other bigger issue is actually intoxication. We have seen a significant spike as the various stages of lockdown have been reduced, with particular spikes initially on Thursday and Friday evenings and then weekends.” The reluctance to touch handrails comes despite an Imperial College London study finding in February no traces of the Chinese virus in air samples or on shared surfaces on several of London’s trains, buses, Tube stations, or bus depots that researchers had tested. Londoners’ fear of catching the virus appears to be part of a wider culture of fear that has gripped the nation. A poll from July, taken less than two weeks before the end of the majority of restrictions, found that a combined 79 per cent of Britons felt some level of nervousness over the end of lockdown. More than one-in-five (21 per cent) said they felt “very nervous”, 34 per cent “fairly nervous”, and 24 per cent “not very nervous”. Just 21 per cent said they did not feel nervous “at all”.