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So how was the Tube strike for you?

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Tom Edwards Tom Edwards | 10:31 UK time, Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Photo sent in to the BBC's UGC hub of the scene outside Liverpool Street station this morning

When the editor asks you to put your neck on the block and predict how many Tube trains are going to run the next morning, you are on a hiding to nothing.

Perhaps I hedged my bets a little saying it was difficult to tell (it is) and said London Underground is hoping to run some services and we could get a "skeleton service" and "a handful of trains."

Certainly last night when I was at Warren Street and they shut the station at 10.30pm while we were on air I thought the disruption would be severe.

So how has it been?

Most news outlets have been reporting "severe disruption" and here in the newsroom we are getting the stories of people missing meetings and hearings.

No doubt many commuters stayed at home and some have switched modes of transport - the roads have been extremely busy and there have been many more bikes on the road (even our Political Editor Tim Donovan got onto two wheels).

When you take reliability out of the Tube then people will switch.

And there have been long queues at bus stops and taxi ranks.

All morning the unions and London Underground have been trying to get their message across about the scale of the disruption.

The unions at one point said every line had been affected. The problem in assessing it is that it varies from hour to hour.

At one point lots of the lines were suspended offering no service and then later in the morning more lines started to put trains with severe delays.

The RMT picket line outside Finsbury Park Tube

By 10.00am London Underground said 40% of tube trains were operating. Of course commuting is extremely subjective so let me know how you got on.

My fellow Mind the Gap blogger Steve Phillips thinks the disruption was at least as bad as this time last year.

Into the mix another issue is the accusations being made by the Unions about alleged safety breaches at some stations.

The RMT says its "filing reports this morning with the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) detailing clear breaches of safety regulations".

The accusations according to the RMT Union are:

  • On the Bakerloo Line a limited "shuttle service" is running non-stop from Marylebone to Queens Park passing through six closed stations - a clear breach of the section 12 Kings Cross fire regulations that stipulate if three stations in a row are closed the service should be suspended as an incident in a tunnel would make safe evacuation impossible.
  • A similar situation on the District Line where Embankment, Temple and Blackfriars are closed - with Cannon St expected to close - but trains still being allowed to run through in contravention of section 12.

  • 150 passengers dumped off a train on the Central Line at Leytonstone and forced to climb over fences to get out of the closed station after managers were caught out trying to run an under-staffed service and were forced to cancel in mid-stream.

UPDATE 12pm:

Here's the response from London Underground.

On the RMT's claims over breaching fire safety regulations:

WRONG - London Underground has thorough and well-practised contingency plans in place, drawn up following detailed risk assessments. These state that if three stations in a row are closed due to insufficient staff, train services can still continue through those stations as long as member of staff is present at any one of those locations to assist should an emergency evacuation be necessary.

In the cases outlined [by the RMT above], we have staff qualified in evacuation procedures at those locations, we just don't have enough staff to open those stations at the moment. Therefore it is entirely safe to operate trains through these lines.

On the RMT's claim that 150 passengers were 'dumped' off a Central Line at Leytonstone:

WRONG - The station was preparing to open when the service came in, with 40 passengers on board. In order to help customers exit as quickly as possible, a manager guided them out via the staff entrance. This took a couple of minutes. No customers were seen climbing over fences by our staff.


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