Millions hit by Tube stoppage

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MILLIONS of commuters will be affected today by a 48-hour London Underground strike, which started at 6pm last night.

Motoring organisations predict that the industrial action by the Rail Maritime and Transport union over job security will lead to severe delays. Matters have been made worse by the coincidental closure today of The Mall, a main London artery, for resurfacing work.

Commuters were being urged to take a day off work or to stagger their journeys, as the RAC warned that the strike could paralyse London. Roads used by tens of thousands of commuters from the Home Counties and Hertfordshire are expected to be up to a third busier today.

London Underground will offer a reduced service but many workers will be obliged to use packed overground trains or join jammed roads.

Two routes around the Whitehall area are already closed. Traffic coming into London over Westminster, Lambeth and Waterloo bridges will be further delayed as drivers, unfamiliar with the city streets, negotiate the blocked roads. The knock-on effect is likely to jam up traffic in Piccadilly and Whitehall.

The AA warned that roadworks on the North Circular Road, which orbits north London and feeds traffic into the centre, would add to the chaos.

Steve Upsher, press officer for the AA, said: "It will add an hour or two at each end of the evening rush hour for the 48-hour duration."

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: "There have been dreadful situations in years past and we will police it as best we can."

Calls for the Government to open the Royal Parks for parking were rejected yesterday over fears that this would encourage people to drive in.

The main roads around London facing delays today are the M25, M3, M4, M11 and M1.

Glenda Jackson, the Transport minister, said yesterday she would not intervene in the dispute. "We have asked that if people can use public transport, please do," she said.