London commuters scrambled to find a place on buses, bicycles and even boats on Tuesday as Tube workers continued a 24-hour strike to protest plans to cut 800 jobs on the London Underground.
AFP - Millions of Londoners faced travel chaos Tuesday as workers on the city's Underground train network staged a 24-hour strike over planned job cuts.
Commuters were forced to join long queues for crowded bus and boat services, walk or cycle to get to work as all of the network's 11 lines were either suspended or badly disrupted.
On a normal weekday, passengers make about 3.5 million journeys on the Underground but that is likely to dwindle because of the strike.
The walk-out is over the planned axing of 800 out of 19,000 jobs on the Underground, also known as the Tube.
It was accompanied by a war of words between Transport for London (TfL), the local government body responsible for the city's transport network, and trade unions.
TfL claimed 40 percent of Tube trains were in operation and that there were services operating on all but one line.
Underground boss Mike Brown said: "Londoners will doubtless find it incredible that the two union leaderships are pursuing this action when they have been given cast-iron assurances that the staffing changes we are making come with no compulsory redundancies".
It insists most of the job losses will come among ticket office staff.
But the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union insisted there was "rock solid" support for the action, saying around 11,000 people have joined the strike. It added that the job cuts would threaten passenger safety.
The RMT is staging the strike along with the Transport Salaried Staffs Association.
The action will cost London's economy some 48 million pounds (58 million euros, 73 million dollars) a day, according to the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Travellers spoke of some journeys taking twice as long as usual, clogged pavements and large queues for bus and ferry services down the River Thames, where extra services were being laid on.
Jay Sweeney, 25, said he came to work in central London on a bus which was "really crowded" even at 6:00am, adding: "It was too full, people were trying to get through but they wouldn't let any more on in the end."
He also criticised the unions over the strike.
"They (tube workers) are on a lot of money, they should think themselves lucky they've got a job. There are people out there who would give an arm and a leg to be in that situation," he said.
The strike is due to last until early Wednesday.
Date created : 2010-09-07