LONDON • Londoners struggled to go to work yesterday as a strike brought the underground rail network to a standstill for the second time in a month over plans for a new all-night service.
Commuters had to deal with long queues and delays as they navigated London, even though about 250 extra buses were on the roads and additional rental bicycles and river boat services were rolled out to ease the disruption. There were a combined 317km of traffic jams around the city as many used their cars, reported the BBC.
Even those aiming to beat the crowds and setting out on their journeys by 6am faced travel problems. Ms Alessandra Bonomolo tweeted: "6.20am. Couldn't get on the first train - too crowded", while Ms Roxy Baker said: "Not even 6.30 and you can barely get on the 205 at Bow Church... it's (the) first stop".
The Tube handles four million journeys every day, meaning many trains and buses were overcrowded yesterday, while roads were clogged with cyclists and pavements filled with pedestrians. London Underground staff walked out on Wednesday evening and will not return until this morning, causing a shutdown of the subway network.
Four trade unions are locked in a months-long dispute with management over London Mayor Boris Johnson's plans to run a 24-hour Tube service on Fridays and Saturdays from Sept 12. All four unions taking part in the strike said they supported night services but said the plans would destroy their members' work-life balance.
The latest round of negotiations broke down on Monday, when union leaders rejected an offer of a 2 per cent salary increase and bonus payments for night shift workers. Rail, Maritime and Transport union leader Mick Cash said it was "just a rehash of an earlier package and does nothing to tackle the fundamental issue of our members being called into work at the beck and call of management to plug staffing gaps in the Mayor's botched night Tube plans".
Mayor Johnson called the latest offer "incredibly generous", and said he would not authorise any more money or negotiate while
unions were "holding a gun to Londoners' heads", said the BBC.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS