LONDON • Millions of Londoners faced misery trying to get to work yesterday as a 24-hour strike by staff and drivers brought the British capital's underground rail network to a complete halt.
London Underground bosses said no trains would run all day on the Tube - as the world's oldest underground passenger railway is known - because of the stoppage, which follows a dispute over plans for new night services.
Commuters who usually use the underground network were forced to walk, cycle, battle to find taxis or cram onto crowded buses, while many simply stayed at home.
Many of the major trunk roads into the capital were jammed and there were chaotic scenes at bus stops and overland train stations as passengers sought alternative ways to get to work on time.
Transport bosses said they had put on extra river boat services and 200 more buses to cope, and marshals were positioned at rail stations to help manage extra demand as long queues snaked down streets.
"There are plenty of industries which have to work nights and London is a 24/7 city," said Mr Mark Crosby, waiting for a bus at Epping station in north-east London. "Everyone has a right to their own view, but I don't think they should have gone on strike."
Members of four rail unions representing staff from managers to train drivers joined the walkout, unhappy with the pay and terms offered by London Underground to implement a 24-hour service at the weekends on some lines, due to begin in September.
London Underground has said it has hired an extra 137 night drivers and offered a fair pay deal, and said most staff would be unaffected by the changes and no one would have to work more hours.
"A night-time Tube service is something Londoners and businesses have been requesting for many years," said Mr Steve Griffiths, London Underground's chief operating officer, who accused the unions of failing to engage in negotiations.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said the action was political and accused the unions of having no interest in doing a deal.
He said union leaders should "cut the cackle, stop the misery for Londoners and allow the Tube workforce to get on with their job".
A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said the strike was "unacceptable and unjustified".
The 24-hour walkout was due to end last night, although London Underground said some disruption would continue today.
Millions left work early on Wednesday to beat the strike, which started at 6.30pm.
REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE