London Subway Users Face Station, Line Closures as Strike Starts
London subway travelers face station closures and line suspensions today as railway workers began a second strike over safety and staffing levels, disrupting the travel plans of 3.5 million people.
The 24-hour walkout, one of four scheduled in protest against 800 planned job cuts, began at 6:29 p.m. U.K. time yesterday, Geoff Martin, a spokesman for the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, said by telephone. It is likely there will be a skeleton service “at best” on some underground lines today and others will be closed, he said.
The industrial action began to affect the underground network shortly after it began last night. The subway’s Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith & City lines and parts of the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines were suspended, and there were severe delays on the Central line, Transport for London said on its website.
The stoppage, the fifth to shut London Underground, or the Tube, since 2002, involves around 10,000 employees. More than 100 additional buses, capacity for more than 10,000 extra river crossings and controlled taxi centers have been organized for the strike period, according to TfL.
During the first 24-hour strike on Sept. 6, Londoners took to boats, bikes and taxis to get to work. The strike may cost businesses 48 million pounds ($76 million), according to the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Negotiations between London Underground and the RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association to resolve the dispute broke down on Sept. 22.
“We will keep as many stations open as possible and will run as many trains as we safely can,” London Underground Managing Director Mike Brown said in an e-mailed statement to customers on Oct. 1. Further walkouts are planned for Nov. 2 and Nov. 28.
In a separate dispute over pay and conditions, almost 200 RMT rail workers in the Tube’s Jubilee and Northern depots will strike for 24 hours starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 4.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge in London at email@example.com