London Underground managers will meet unions tomorrow after a two-day strike over job cuts and ticket-office closures ending at 9 p.m. left commuters grappling with reduced services, shuttered stations and snarled traffic.
The Tube, which usually carries more than 3.3 million people on weekdays, operated more than one-third of its usual services today to 75 percent of stations. Some 91 percent of regular Oyster swipe-card users traveled, while demand for public bicycle-hire services surged more than 50 percent.
The Rail, Maritime & Transport union and Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association called the strike over plans to scrap ticket booths with the loss of more than 750 jobs, spurred by the use of Oyster travel cards that automatically open gates after being charged with credit. A further two-day walkout is set for the evening of Feb. 11, with the London Chamber of Commerce putting the economic cost at 50 million pounds ($81 million) a day.
Unions say that while fewer than 3 percent of Tube journeys involve a visit to a booth, staffing stations is vital to guaranteeing public safety. Talks between London Underground and union leaders will take place tomorrow morning at the state-sponsored Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.
Trains operated on nine of the 11 subway lines today, with some running before 5:30 a.m. versus 7 a.m. yesterday, Transport for London, which oversees the network, said.
The Waterloo & City Line, which transports commuters from Britain’s busiest railway station to the heart of the financial district, was closed for the duration of the strike, together with the Circle Line that rings the center of London and most of the Bakerloo line.
Stations on the Piccadilly Line and Central Line were open only at their eastward and westward extremities. The Northern Line, the system’s busiest, operated a “good service” throughout the day, according to Transport for London, which oversees the Tube.
London Underground workers were instructed by unions not to show up for shifts between 9 p.m. on Feb. 4 and 8:59 p.m. today. TfL said it’s likely trains will be disrupted until tomorrow morning as services take time to return to normal.
The subway network, dubbed the Underground in 1908, carries more than 1.2 billion people annually, with 57,000 passengers entering the busiest Tube station at Waterloo during the three-hour morning peak. The service employs about 19,000 people and has 270 stations, according to TfL.
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