Londoners endure transport misery as rail staff strike

Londoners face transport chaos at the start of the working week after two unions representing workers on the London Underground began a 24-hour strike from Sunday evening.
Many were forced to take buses after a rail strike in London yesterday.
Many were forced to take buses after a rail strike in London yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Millions of Londoners struggled to get to work yesterday at the start of a week of travel chaos which will see rail networks brought to a standstill by a series of strikes.

Commuters used cars, boats, bicycles and heaving buses to cope with a 24-hour walkout by underground station staff that left the majority of Tube stops in central London closed and no services operating from main-line stations such as Victoria, King's Cross and Waterloo.

Huge queues began building up outside stations while many major roads in the city were gridlocked.

"I'm giving up on even trying," said software developer Rajiv Perseedoss, 30, who was trying to get to work in central London from Canary Wharf in the east of the city.

"I'm not a Tube worker. I don't know about their conditions, but whatever it is, they can't take it out on everybody."

Yesterday's walkout on the Tube, which carries up to 4.8 million passengers a day, begins a week of industrial action which will hit rail and air passengers.

There are warnings the problems could spread across the country.

Train drivers on Southern Rail are striking today, tomorrow and Friday, bringing all rail services used by hundreds of thousands of passengers from the south coast and Gatwick Airport to London to a halt.

British Airways staff will also strike for two days over pay starting today, although the impact of the walkout is likely to be limited.

"It's intolerable that key public services can be brought to a halt by a small number of militant trade unionists in what increasingly looks like a coordinated political action," Mr Nick Herbert, a lawmaker in Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The London Underground strike by staff in the RMT and TSSA unions comes after a dispute over staffing levels following the closure of ticket offices in recent years.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline 'Londoners endure transport misery as rail staff strike'. Print Edition | Subscribe