Financial News

  • 29 April 2014, 22:07

Tube Misery But 'One In Two Trains Running'

Commuters face long delays due to a Tube strike over ticket office closures that has reduced Underground services in London.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union mounted picket lines outside stations after walking out at 9pm on Monday.

The action is planned to last for 48 hours and commuters face the prospect of more disruption and long queues on Wednesday morning.

The strike will be followed by another three-day stoppage next week.

London Underground (LU) said it was running half of Tube services and said two-thirds of stations were open despite the industrial action, but the union said its strike had been "solidly" supported.

LU managing director Mike Brown said 15% more staff were at work compared to a previous strike in February.

Some 87% of the usual number of Oyster cards were used on the Transport for London (TfL) network on Tuesday, and there was also a 50% increase in the hiring of Barclays cycles.

But during the morning rush-hour large queues built up at stations as passengers waited for the first trains to run from 7am. Services on Wednesday will also begin from the same time, but Underground lines will run on shortened routes.

There were almost 8,000 buses on the roads - the most ever operated in London - after an extra 266 were put into service.

On the busy Victoria line, where trains normally run approximately every two minutes, there was just one service every 10 minutes.

Heathrow Express trains between Paddington and Heathrow were running as scheduled due to staff reserves.

The RMT union is embroiled in a fresh row over the ticket office closure plans, which officials warn threaten safety as well as almost 1,000 jobs.

LU denied there would be any impact on safety and said ticket office staff would provide a better service if they were moved to other parts of stations.

The RMT said its members were solidly supporting the industrial action, as the union again attacked the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, over the future of ticket offices.

Mick Cash, the union's acting general secretary, said: "London Underground have dug themselves into an entrenched position and have refused to move one inch from their stance of closing every ticket office.

"It is scandalous that Transport for London are blowing what we estimate to be hundreds of thousands of pounds on politically-motivated adverts and propaganda designed to deflect attention from Mr Johnson's broken promises."

However, Mr Brown said: "The RMT leadership appears to remain implacably opposed to the modernisation of the Tube that will radically improve customer service and help us keep fares down."

Business groups warned the strikes will cost the capital's economy millions of pounds.

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