Commuters and tourists faced chaos in London yesterday as Tube drivers and staff staged their first full strike in 13 years. London Underground stations were shut and locked and anybody travelling to or in London was forced to resort to buses, taxis, bicycles, boats or, in thousands of cases, walking.
Taxi firms reported that many commuters had pre-booked cabs on Wednesday evening to get to work. Queues at bus stops stretched for up to one hundred yards. In some cases walking would have been quicker than taking a taxi or a bus as major intersections during the morning and evening rush hours were almost gridlocked.
Commuters tweeted that buses jammed with passengers were driving past bus stops as they simply did not have room for any more passengers. At Paddington, travellers who had arrived on Heathrow Express trains with all their luggage contributed to the general atmosphere of confusion on the streets surrounding the station.
Earlier this morning, Transport for London (TFL) released a statement saying it expected services to be back to normal today. Talks aimed at ending an impasse over pay increases and the forthcoming introduction of night services on the Tube collapsed on Tuesday evening.
Four unions ASLEF, RMT, Unite and TSSA have been involved with long protracted talks with TFL management over the proposed extension of London Underground operating hours. London mayor Boris Johnson says he thinks the TFL proposals for pay and enhancements are fair.
TFL has offered a two per cent pay rise for 2015 followed by above retail prices index increases for 2016 and 2017. Drivers will also get £2,000 when night operations are introduced. ASLEF organiser Finn Brennan claimed the strike was the fault of TFL’s management as they had squandered three months worth of negotiations.