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)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
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

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower