A Monday morning like no other as workers return to Tube and buses

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The Independent Online

But normal is not normal any more on the London Underground and on London buses. The heightened police presence at stations was visible yesterday and appeals for people to keep their luggage close to them were frequent on every service. And though the spectrum of emotions reflected different characters and travelling circumstances, in some places an underlying tone of anxiety was clearly dominant.

It was most in evidence near those Tube stations where bombs had exploded, and at King's Cross in particular. There, some of the travelling public had themselves had narrow escapes, missing the fateful train by only minutes, or had known people caught up in the blasts.

Janice Rose, 55, a traffic warden manager from West Ealing, said she felt "awful" as her day began. "I feel terrible," she said. "I left my house at 5.45 this morning to get to Islington and it is past 7am and I am still travelling. I think I am still traumatised by Thursday, and whoever I see around me on the train or the bus, I see as a suspect. I am really put off by the whole experience."

There was definitely an air of suspicion on public transport, she said, but she added that she still had to come to work and was not going to be put off by the terrorists. "We have to go on with our normal lives. That's the way it is," she said.

Neil Gates, a 46-year-old human resources director from Stevenage in Hertfordshire, said he had been unable to sleep on Sunday night because he normally catches the Circle line train which was caught in the blast. "The atmosphere on the train coming in this morning was very quiet," he said. "Normally you have to stand, but the train was half empty so I don't know if people had decided not to come in to work. It was definitely subdued."

Although London Underground said numbers using the Tube were "back to normal", widespread anecdotal evidence suggested otherwise. On services such as the Northern line into the West End and the Jubilee line taking workers out to the City of London's rival financial district at Canary Wharf, east of the capital, carriages that were normally packed tight throughout the rush hour were half empty.

Many people made their journey but simply avoided the Underground. Ted Wright, chairman of the British Poultry Council, who came into Liverpool Street, said he would take a taxi to and from Blackfriars instead of using the Tube. "In the light of what has happened I have decided to take a taxi. It will probably cost an extra £6 but should hopefully put my wife's mind at rest," he said.

Paul Edwards, a 41-year-old fund manager from Pirbright in Surrey who came into Waterloo with South West Trains, said he had decided to abandon his normal follow-on journey on the Waterloo and City line. "It just occurred to me this morning that I would avoid it," said Mr Edwards, who took a different overground route to the City via Waterloo East and Cannon Street mainline stations.

Vigilance and suspicion were widespread. "I will be looking at everything, at the way everyone is behaving and what everyone is carrying," said Florence Churchill, 41, a planning consultant from Milford in Surrey who came into Waterloo and took the Jubilee line onwards to Green Park station.

Denise Murray, a 39-year-old case clerk at the Crown Prosecution Service, said she looked at everyone who got on and off her Waterloo-bound train from Brentford in west London. "I even kept looking in the overhead luggage rack and I had my own coat there," she said. On Friday, she said, she had closely scrutinised everyone who got on to the bus she takes to her offices near the Old Bailey.

But plenty of people also said that they were determined not to let the threat affect their lives. "You've just got to carry on, you can't worry about these things," said Gillian MacFarlane, a 35-year-old customer relations worker from Twickenham in south-west London.

"Keep going; that's life. If people want to destroy our way of life, we're not going to give in. We've got to go to work, we haven't got a choice," she said.

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, sent out the same message as he made his normal Tube journey to work. "We are going to work. We carry on our lives," he said as he entered his local Underground station at Willesden Green in the north-west of the capital. "We don't let a small group of terrorists change the way we live."

* The return to near-normal service has been hampered by passengers continuing to leave bags unattended. More than 50 security alerts have occurred since Friday morning on the Tube, Transport for London said. "It is irresponsible in the extreme for a minority to cause disruption through thoughtlessness," a spokesman said.