Tube strike delivers real Black Friday for London businesses

LONDON • Central London shops and businesses hoping to receive a much-needed boost from Black Friday sales were hit by disruption to the Tube network as drivers held their biggest strike since 2018.

The 24-hour strike, which started at 4.30am on Friday, led to the suspension of the Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines, and delays on the Jubilee, Central, Victoria and Northern lines.

Transport for London (TfL) said it was running 58 per cent of its usual services.

The walkout of 2,000 Rail, Maritime and Transport Union members came after disagreements over TfL's plans to make Tube drivers take on shifts at night.

The strikes targeted the five lines where TfL used to employ dedicated Night Tube drivers, with the Waterloo and City line also suspended as it shares many of its drivers with the Central line.

Tube services on Friday and Saturday nights have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Operations were due to restart with limited service yesterday.

Mr Joe Swaffham, 36, who commutes from North Greenwich to Moorgate to work for a maintenance firm, said his journey took twice as long and made him 45 minutes late for work.

"Commuters were being less forgiving when trying to get on trains and I got pushed two-throw down the platform - luckily the Jubilee line has a glass wall for safety," he said. "But I think the train workers shouldn't have to be forced into hours they didn't sign up for."

Businesses in central London said the strike hurt sales on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

"The timing of the strike is particularly disappointing and is a real kick in the teeth for Central London's hospitality and retail sector," said Mr Ros Morgan, chief executive of Heart of London Business Alliance, which represents 500 businesses in London's West End.

At least five more similar strikes, across about half of the London Underground network, are planned until the week before Christmas.

The restoration of the Night Tube has been a key demand of women's safety groups, after a policeman was jailed for life last month for the murder of a marketing executive, Ms Sarah Everard, on the night of March 3.

REUTERS

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 28, 2021, with the headline Tube strike delivers real Black Friday for London businesses. Subscribe