Thursday, October 21

Tube Strikes Causes 200 Miles Of Tailbacks


People queue for a bus at London’s Bus stops as commuters and tourists face a day of travel chaos because of a strike which has closed the underground

Commuters faced 200 miles of traffic jams and huge queues for buses as the they battled to get to work with London’s entire Tube network shut down for the day.

Although 250 extra buses are being laid on by Transport for London, roads were crammed as many people switched to their cars in a bid to get to work on time.

Shortly before 9am there were 428 separate traffic jams around the capital – a total of 197 miles of queuing vehicles, according to navigation software makers TomTom.

The congestion was double the level of the previous Thursday, but significantly better than during last month’s strike when there were 761 miles of jams.

The worst delays were around Parliament Square and on the A40 from Wood Lane to Marylebone Road.

Sky News reporter Joe Tidy was at King’s Cross station and said his journey there had taken more than an hour longer than usual.

“There are lots of people using pavements, lots of taxis very busy and doing a good trade. (The strike) is going to have a major impact on people today,” he added.

London Overground and the Docklands Light Railway were running as normal, but they were busier than usual.

Outside Tube stations, picket lines are being mounted, as workers from four unions protested about plans to launch a 24-hour “Night Tube” service on some lines at weekends from 12 September.

Constructive talks between TfL and the unions appeared to have stalled after unions refused a deal that included an extra £200 per night shift, a £500 launch bonus for night staff and assurances on work-life balance including amended rotas and new staff. The pay rise alone would have taken the salary of a newly-qualified tube driver from £49,673 to £50,666.

RMT leaders claimed the offer “is just a rehash of an earlier package” which doesn’t address concerns about work/life balance, adding that staff have not been properly consulted about the rota changes that night work would bring, leaving them “at the beck and call of management to plug staffing gaps”.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has insisted that Underground staff are being offered a “very generous deal” and warned no further money would be authorised during negotiations – even if it meant delaying the launch of the Night Tube.

But Steve Griffiths, LU’s chief operating officer, has stressed that all workers will still get two days off in every seven, and will have ample opportunity to swap shifts with colleagues if they so wish.

His colleague, LU’s managing director Nick Brown, said: “I think, for the sake clearly of our passengers, a resolution has got to come. I hope it comes very soon – but it can’t come at any cost.”

Meanwhile, the Government has announced nurses, teachers and civil servants will not be allowed to have trade union subscription automatically deducted from their wages.

Nearly four million public sector workers have their fees taken directly from their pay every month but ministers say the approach is “outdated” and leaves the taxpayer with a £6.5m bill every year to help fund union payments.

Workers will instead have to arrange to make the payments themselves, a move which could see a significant decline in funding for Britain’s biggest trade unions.