Tube strike: Walkout expected in ticket office dispute

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Media captionRMT leader Bob Crow spoke to Boris Johnson by phone

A strike on London Underground is due to start later as the row over plans to close ticket offices continues.

RMT union leader Bob Crow and London Mayor Boris Johnson earlier clashed over the issue live on LBC radio in what was thought to be their first conversation for years.

Members of two unions, the RMT and the TSSA, are due to walk out for 48 hours from 21:00 GMT.

Transport for London (TfL) said it was not too late to call off the strikes.

It repeated its offer to delay the end of the consultation period until March and said it would be willing to continue talks, but insisted plans to close ticket offices and cut jobs were needed to save £50m a year.

Image copyright Peter Macdiarmid / getty
Image caption The dispute centres on plans to close ticket offices and cut jobs

An initial 950 jobs are due to go with the potential for 200 new roles being created.

If the strike goes ahead the authority plans to run a limited service.

'Deeply regrettable'

Prime Minister David Cameron entered the row tweeting: "Bob Crow's Tube strike is shameful, bringing misery to millions of Londoners. Ed Miliband should condemn it now: no 'ifs' and no 'buts'."

In response, a representative of the RMT said: "Rather than David Cameron making cheap political points he should get Boris Johnson to stick to his election promise to Londoners not to close ticket offices."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the strike should not go ahead.

"It is deeply regrettable that there doesn't seem to have been any negotiation or any meetings with the Mayor of London and TfL," he added.

Services running

The strikes will affect all Underground lines with only limited services expected on:

  • Bakerloo line - Trains will run between Queen's Park and Elephant & Castle every six minutes
  • Central Line and Piccadilly line - Trains running, with no service operating through the central areas
  • Circle line, District line, Metropolitan line and Hammersmith & City line - Some trains running, but not stopping at certain stations
  • Jubilee line - Trains running between Stanmore and Finchley Road and between Waterloo and Stratford
  • Northern line - Trains running, except to Mill Hill East
  • Victoria line - Trains running between Seven Sisters and Victoria

Fans going to the O2 Arena in Greenwich to see singer Taylor Swift may experience disruption to their journeys.

And supporters going to the Fulham v Sheffield United FA Cup match at Craven Cottage may have to find alternative routes home.

Earlier Mr Crow and Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the TSSA union, went to City Hall to try to see the mayor face-to-face.

Instead Mr Crow spoke to Mr Johnson over the phone on London's LBC radio.

The RMT leader urged Mr Johnson to stop the job cuts, telling the mayor "suspend the notice, we'll suspend the action and we can all get round the table".

Mr Johnson said it was "complete nonsense", saying the RMT knew the strike was inevitable. He accused Mr Crow of "muscle flexing".

"Call off this pointless strike which will do nothing other than cost your members their wages," Mr Johnson said.

On Monday the conciliation service Acas said seven days of talks had ended without an agreement.

Speaking to BBC London 94.9, London Underground chief operating officer Phil Hufton said: "We are still trying to find a way round this and if I can do anything possible to change this I will."

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimated the strike would cost the capital's economy £50m each day.

Chief executive Colin Stanbridge said: "Any Tube strike has a huge impact on the London business community and those it employs.

"Not only does it make the daily commute more difficult for millions of workers, but will also impact on the tourists, visitors and shoppers who bring money into the London economy."

Bus fears

Brenda Hussey, who normally commutes from Southgate to Warren Street said she would be travelling by bus during the walkout.

"I'll be getting the bus at 05:30 tomorrow morning," she said.

"I'm very concerned if I'll get on the bus or not.

"I don't agree with the strike, especially as the fares have gone up, and this is becoming increasingly frustrating as it's going to be next week as well."

The second 48-hour walkout is due to begin at 21:00 GMT on 11 February.

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