IRA bomb alert brings travel chaos in London: Thousands of commuters suffer disruption as series of coded warnings lead to the closure of rail and Tube stations

THE IRA yesterday caused some of London's worst travel chaos to date, with a series of coded bomb warnings that closed 40 British Rail stations, paralysed large sections of London Underground, affected more than 350,000 commuters and cost the capital's economy an estimated pounds 34m.

No bombs were found, but the authorities had to take the threat seriously and search all the stations because four small incendiary devices had exploded in the capital on Monday. The warnings were deliberately vague following an IRA tactic first seen on Sunday when widespread travel disruption was caused in and around the capital.

The terrorists now say only that a bomb has been planted on a particular part of the network.

One call yesterday said that there was a bomb on a line between London and Sevenoaks. This meant that nearly 40 stations, including six London terminals from which trains run to the Kent town, had to be closed.

Victoria, Blackfriars, Charing Cross, London Bridge, Waterloo East and Cannon Street stations were closed for most of the morning. Some trains were stuck outside terminals for up to three hours. East Croydon station, one of the busiest junctions on the rail network, was closed by a second call, while a third shut down the Central and Northern lines on London Underground. All Tube stations intersecting with these lines or rail terminals were also closed.

London Underground evacuated 50,000 to 60,000 people from 100 Tube stations in 15 minutes at the height of the morning rush hour. About 300,000 rail commuters were either stranded in trains or found services cancelled.

While many went back home, others fought their way on to packed buses which made slow progress in traffic jams and most taxis were quickly occupied. Some passengers were involved in angry scenes with rail and Tube staff as the network ground to a halt.

It took police hours to search all the stations. A spokesman said: 'It is a very painstaking operation. We do not want to miss an inch of ground in case a bomb has been planted somewhere.'

Almost all train and Tube services were running again by yesterday evening's rush hour and a spokesman for Network SouthEast said that train services should be 'near normal' this morning.

A spokeswoman for the Association of London Authorities estimated that the chaos had cost the capital's economy pounds 34m due to lost business and working time.

However, stores in Oxford Street, in the centre of London, reported that business was only slightly down on the previous day after a slow start. Most Christmas shoppers started their journeys after the worst of the chaos was over.

On Monday, four small incendiary devices went off in the capital, two in postal sorting depots and a third at Northfields Tube station in west London. One exploded in the Travellers Tavern pub at Victoria Coach Station after being abandoned by the terrorists.

Police have appealed for witnesses who may have seen two men in their twenties, dump the black nylon holdall with multi-coloured patterns on each end in the pub at about 2pm. The bag was found to contain several incendiary devices.

People and businesses who may be targets for attacks by animal rights activists were warned to be on their guard yesterday after letter-bombs were sent to several addresses across England.

In one case, four people were taken to hospital with minor injuries and shock after a device exploded at a laboratory at Small Dole, near Henfield, West Sussex. Other devices were addressed to locations in London, Surrey, Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

Scotland Yard said the bombers were using cardboard cylinders sold by the Post Office for sending items like posters for the attacks, packing them with small quantities of 'incendiary material'.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments