Travel chaos continues despite Tube strike end

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The Independent Online

London Underground passengers suffered a fresh bout of travel chaos today even though a strike by Tube workers has been suspended.

Services on two-thirds of the Tube network remained at a standstill at the start of the morning rush-hour as LU carried out safety checks.

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union called off the industrial action late last night, too late for LU to put in place a normal service this morning.

Around 2,300 members of the union walked out at 6pm on Monday and were due to remain on strike until 6pm on Thursday in a row linked to the collapse of maintenance giant, Metronet.

The action closed much of the Tube network, which is used by more than three million passengers a day, and cost the capital's economy up to £50 million.

Transport for London maintained throughout the row that it had given all the guarantees it could that the jobs and pensions of union members would not be affected by Metronet going into administration.

But the RMT went ahead with the strike, claiming it had not been given the "unequivocal" assurances it was seeking.

A spokesman for TfL said today that the guarantees given to the RMT were the same as those given to two other Tube unions who called off their threatened strike earlier in the week.

"Only the RMT can explain why guarantees that were unacceptable on Monday were accepted last night.

"Our priority now is to restore a full service for Londoners as speedily as possible, but obviously it will take time for us to bring the system back to full capacity."

Three Tube lines - the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly - were not affected by the dispute and were operating this morning.

But others, including the busy Victoria, Central and Bakerloo lines, had no services, causing fresh misery for people trying to get to work.

The union said it would be holding further meetings today and again on Friday before deciding whether to press ahead with a second planned strike from next Monday.

TfL commissioner Peter Hendy told the BBC that travellers would face disruption for much of today until normal services started to resume.

The first priority was for engineering and safety checks to be carried out on the network.

He told the Radio 4 Today programme: "At some stage during the day we will get everything running. Some things we hope will start fairly soon but the suspension came so late last night that it will be impossible to start normally."

Asked if anything "fresh" had been offered during the talks, he said: "There isn't anything fresh in terms of meat to give them.

"They had, and the Mayor (Ken Livingstone) said yesterday... all of the assurances on Thursday and Friday."

He said officials were able to "explain and give reassurance" to the unions.

He added: "The biggest issue - the pension issue - we had already given assurances that none of the Metronet employees' pensions would be affected.

"The last piece of that jigsaw will be put in place this afternoon with the meeting of the pension trustees."

He added: "We haven't given anything new because, as the Mayor said, there was nothing to give."

A TfL spokesman added: "Transport for London are pleased that the RMT has suspended its strike action following the clarification of all jobs and pensions' issues.

"We will now work to provide the best possible Tube service. However, as the strike was suspended so late, it will take time for us to restore a full service on all Underground lines.

"Passengers should check before they travel to see how Tube services are running."

Tube services affected by the strike were gradually restored this morning.

Transport for London said services on the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines were restored, with minor delays, while services resumed on the Central Line, although with severe delays.

Services remained suspended on other lines, including the District and Circle, causing continuing misery for travellers.