Traffic on London’s Underground network saw its biggest recession-related decline in 20 years in August, falling 6.4% compared with the same month in 2008.

The fall is the first evidence that the system is seeing significant passenger decline as a result of the recession, after months of Transport for London, the London mayor’s organisation, claiming a surprising resilience in demand.

The decline in revenue will complicate questions over TfL's funding.

Patronage on the system, the world’s largest, last fell by such a large amount in the late 1980s. There have been temporary traffic falls since as a result of one-off events such as the July 7 2005 terrorist attacks but none as large as a result of economic factors.

Declines have been most marked at stations where traffic depends heavily on the financial services industry, such as Canary Wharf in Docklands.

Financial Times