Tube strike causes travel chaos


Click to follow
The Independent Online

A walkout by striking Tube drivers caused Boxing Day travel misery on the London Underground (LU) as key lines serving central London were knocked out or operated a severely reduced service.

Underground drivers from the Aslef union staged a 24-hour walkout demanding extra pay for working on the public holiday.

Transport for London (TfL) said more services operated than expected but that there was still significant disruption.

Services on the Circle line were suspended due to the strike, with most other lines running reduced services.

As of 5.30pm today there was no central London service on the District, Northern, Piccadilly, Metropolitan, Hammersmith and City and Jubilee lines.

All those lines ran special services outside central London, while there were planned closures on the Overground and Waterloo and City line.

Last week a High Court judge ruled that the strike was lawful and could go ahead following a legal challenge by LU.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said increased demand for Tube drivers on Boxing Day over the years meant drivers were not getting "quality time" with their families and so should be paid extra.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "My team that has been in there for the best part of two years has offered various solutions that would underwrite or part underwrite what we are seeking to achieve.

"There's various transfer and training agreements within the company that if we changed them would subsidise what we are seeking to achieve.

"The original dispute two years ago was about quality time off.

"We agree that we made an agreement with the company in the mid-90s. At that time very few trains ran on Boxing Day. In the last decade and a half we have run as many trains on Boxing Day some years as we run on any day of the week so the intended quality time people were expecting to get has never happened."

Howard Collins, LU's chief operating officer, said the strikes were not having the desired effect and Aslef's demands disregarded long-standing agreements.

"Despite this pointless strike action called by the Aslef leadership we are running more Tube services than predicted and, working with colleagues from across TfL and beyond, we are keeping London moving," he said.

"We have made every effort to resolve this issue, including reducing the number of drivers needed to work Boxing Day so that only one in four are rostered to work.

"However the Aslef leadership are intent on tearing up long-standing agreements that cover pay and annual leave and demanding even more - triple time and another day off.

"Their actions demonstrate a complete disregard for our customers and for the many thousands of Tube staff who will not be on strike and will be working hard to help people get around the capital."