London

London commuters struggle to work during Tube strike

  • 4 October 2010
  • From the section London

As thousands of Tube workers staged a second 24-hour strike over job cuts, commuters looked to the city's other transport systems to make their journeys to work.

Unions claimed the London Underground network was crippled as its members walked out at 1830 BST on Sunday over plans to cut 800 ticket office jobs.

At Paddington station in west London, commuters were directed to bus stops and an ever-growing taxi queue as Tannoy announcements warned of severe delays on the Tube.

Ann Luffman and her boss Andy Parsons had little sympathy for the striking Tube workers when they found themselves in a taxi queue behind about 200 people.

Ms Luffman said: "It's not a good way for them to keep their jobs.

"We have travelled from Bristol for a meeting in the City at 8.30am and we're not going to make it.

"This is my first experience of a Tube strike and I didn't realise it was going to be this bad.

"I thought that as long as we got here early enough we would be able to get a taxi. I will be prepared next time."

Image caption Ann Luffman and Andy Parsons did not anticipate the level of disruption caused by the strike

Also experiencing London on a Tube strike day for the first time, Mr Parsons said: "It is annoying but you can't do much about it.

"It's quite disruptive if you have things scheduled that can't be changed.

"I would consider not coming into London on a strike day next time as I can work in Bristol."

Steve McNamara, spokesman for the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), denied that the Tube strike was a silver lining for the city's 22,000 taxi drivers.

He said: "I expect every available cab in London to be on the road today and while they will be picking up considerably more fares, there will be significantly more traffic on the roads.

"It took me two hours to drive in from Bexleyheath and it normally takes 45 minutes.

"London doesn't work at the best of times so any financial benefits are negated by the gridlocked traffic."

Darshana Patel, 28, usually uses makes a 20-minute journey on the Hammersmith and City Line between Paddington and Moorgate.

Fearing the worst, she said: "It is going to be a nightmare. Last time there was a strike I ended up walking because I just couldn't get on a bus.

"I'm going to take the Bakerloo Line to Elephant and Castle then the Northern Line to Moorgate but who knows how long that will take.

"We're expected to go into work regardless of the strike, although they expect us to be late, but we can't leave early so it's going to be a long day."

Liz Waters, 37, got up early to make the journey from Didcot to Westminster but her attempts to beat the rush for the hire bikes were thwarted.

She said: "I went to get the early train but it was cancelled and that is the last train which gets you in for when there are any bikes left here.

"I'll have to walk a bit to find a quieter docking station and I might well leave work a bit early.

"I did know there was a strike today, which is why I went to get the early train, but I don't know what they are striking about."

Also travelling in from Didcot, James Bartlett, 24, planned to use a hire bike to make the final leg of his journey to work in Tottenham Court Road.

Arriving at the docking station closest to Paddington station he thought his luck was in when he saw one bike left.

But when the bike failed to be released, he said: "It's not working so I will have to walk to work which is about two miles away.

"I did check on my phone and there are no other bikes around Paddington although there are loads near work which is frustrating."

London Mayor Boris Johnson described the industrial action as a "stunted-up strike" which was being "orchestrated by die-hard militant union leadership".

But the RMT said the disruption to the network was "massive and widespread".

Two further strikes are planned for November if the dispute remains unresolved.

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