Hundreds of trains hit by Tube strike

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The Independent Online
HUNDREDS OF thousands of commuters face misery again today before the end of a 48-hour strike on London Underground. Yesterday the action cut services by nearly half.

More than 200 trains were cancelled at the height of the morning rush hour, forcing passengers on to the roads and bringing the capital to near gridlock.

The strike was condemned by the Government and London Underground management called it a flop.

John Reid, Transport minister, said it was "unreasonable and unnecessary" and described the demands of the Rail Maritime and Transport union as "unrealistic". His words boosted Tube managers, who said about two-thirds of services were running.

Mr Reid said: "The strike is unreasonable, unnecessary and damaging to the long-term future of London Underground and its employees ... When the Government is working for resources to revitalise and modernise the Tube, this does nothing to help and everything to undermine public support."

The intervention by Mr Reid, who is in the T&G transport union, was a blow to the RMT.

The strike began at 6pm on Sunday and is to end at the same time today. The union wants assurances that there will be no compulsory redundancies or changes to employment conditions under plans for partial privatisation.

Mr Reid said the demands were "totally unrealistic". Assurances had been given over safeguarding terms and conditions, employment rights, pensions and free travel.

"The Government will not be deflected from its determination to modernise the Tube and give Londoners the Underground service they deserve," he said.

London Underground management said 65 per cent of trains were running by noon yesterday and only nine stations were closed. Some 58 per cent of trains ran in the morning rush hour, when 25 stations were shut. The service was near-perfect on some lines.