MILLIONS of Londoners faced long delays getting into work today as London Underground (LU) strikers are set to continue their action into the evening.
Yesterday at 5pm, LU maintenance and engineering staff left their posts and were followed four hours later by drivers, signallers, station staff and operational managers at trade unions RMT and Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA).
The disruption is affecting LU’s entire Underground network, with delays expected to continue all this evening.
Transport for London (TfL) said passengers can expect a return to relatively normal service by the start of tomorrow’s morning rush hour commute but that some minor disruptions should still be expected.
Last night, Londoners scrambled to get home early before the strikes began.
Commuters flooded into underground stations before 5pm to catch the Tube, while overland trains leaving London Bridge station were busier than usual and commuters fought for space on London’s buses.
TfL said it will “keep London moving” through the course of the 24-hour strike period and yesterday put its plans into action.
Roughly 100 extra buses were added to main routes, while Londoners were also encouraged to get on their bikes. But due to overcrowding, it’s likely that most will have to travel to work by foot.
Just half an hour after the strike started last night, disruptions were already reported on the Bakerloo, Central and District Lines.
At the centre of the bitter dispute are cost-cutting measures LU said it will have to take in order to avoid a raft of draconian cuts in next month’s government spending review. The cuts will affect underground station staff. Unions RMT and TSSA have called the cuts “unsafe”.
HOW TO BEAT THE STRIKE
TfL said disruption is likely to the majority of journeys, but LU has bid to run as many trains and keep as many stations open as possible. According to LU, volunteers will be on hand at key stations throughout London to provide alternative travel options to passengers.
London’s buses will continue to operate around 700 routes, with the addition of 100 buses on extra busy routes during the strike. Extra staff will also be added on major hubs to assist passengers.
RAIL AND THE DLR
These services will operate on a normal schedule, however London Underground has warned that some disruptions may occur where there are interchanges with Tube stations. Network Rail services will also operate a normal service.
TfL said that over 5,000 of its “Boris bikes” will be available to hire for members although demand for the service is expected to be high, especially at peak times. The transport group has encouraged Londoners to cycle into work and has pledged to provide guided rides today. TfL said: “We've written to hundreds of businesses across London to ask them to be flexible and make it easy for staff to cycle to work, and to allow staff to wear casual clothes on the day.”
TfL is to add 10,000 additional seats on boats travelling on the Thames between Towe Bridge, Westminster and London Eye Piers.
This morning taxi drivers will be operating a marshalled service for central London at Waterloo, Liverpool St, King’s Cross, Charing Cross and Marylebone train stations, while fixed-fare taxi sharing will be implemented at Euston and Paddington stations. In addition, the fixed-fare taxi sharing schemes at Euston Station and Paddington Station are expected to operate as normal
The Congestion Charge will remain in operation throughout the strike. However, TfL added: “We will be delaying or curtailing road works on major London roads wherever possible and are encouraging all London boroughs to take similar measures on their network.”
TfL will provide passengers with walking maps at Tube stations within Zone 1 and key outer London stations, with volunteers helping people plan their routes around the city.