Tube strike - the long walk to work: Keeping calm, carrying on - and cursing the mobile map

Commuters faced the dilemma of zig-zagging round to work via the remnant Tube and on crowded buses - or putting on comfy footwear

Share

Oh the irony. Half-way on my strike-beating hike across London was a Crossrail advert proclaiming "When we've finished tunneling, you'll get across London in 12 minutes". Not if they haven't settled the union relationships, I thought.

Take a few thousand steps back to a man on the 6.27 to Liverpool Street. Was it worth chancing the watered-down service from Stratford to Waterloo, walking up to Hyde Park and then hope for a bus towards Kensington? Or was it time to put aside the zig-zag lottery and man up?

Coming in to Stratford it was still 10 minutes before whatever Tube services were due to start, and the thought of a growing crowd of Essex commuters waiting for the 7am Jubilee Line kick-off was enough to persuade me. Six miles? I'd carry on to Liverpool Street and hike from there.

At the mainline terminus, the sight of the crowd waiting for the 7am opening of the Tube gates convinced me I had made the right decision. It's hard to imagine a less energised crowd gathered in such resigned and silent depression.

7.00am Liverpool Street: Leaving the crowd behind the trek started with the realisation that you'd be hard put to tell this from a normal morning. A few more people wearing trainers rather than shoes, maybe. A few more haversacks. But whatever doggedness was on display was certainly masked more by silent pragmatism than overt cussedness.

7.17am St Paul's: A few folk were resorting to mobile maps to navigate unfamiliar above-ground London, and turning circles as they held phones aloft when tall buildings interrupted the screen refresh.

7.28 Chancery Lane: Realised I hadn't yet seen a bus without seats available. Some were even nearly empty.

7.48 Tottenham Court Road: Here I spotted the Crossrail mentioned ad at the top of this commentary. Crossing London in 12 minutes? Be nice, I thought - even nicer if they finish it before I retire. As I passed Oxford Circus I saw the promised TfL guides pointing directions and showing maps; good luck with the tourists later.

Crowds wait for the 7am opening of the restricted Tube lines at Liverpool Street Crowds wait for the 7am opening of the restricted Tube lines at Liverpool Street

An empty No 1 to Canada Water near Holborn, but buses were rammed later in High Street Kensington An empty No 1 to Canada Water near Holborn, but buses were rammed later in High Street Kensington

TfL guides helping commuters at Oxford Circus, but they were the only ones I saw. Perhaps they had trouble getting to work... TfL guides helping commuters at Oxford Circus, but they were the only ones I saw. Perhaps they had trouble getting to work...

This gate at Marble Arch was closed but others were opened This gate at Marble Arch was closed but others were opened 8.05 Marble Arch: Announcements echoed from the barred Oxford Street entrance at Marble Arch. Odd, I thought, but then noticed other entrances were open.

8.20 Crossing the Serpentine: Every walk across London has its bonus - and today gave up the sight of riders and horses from the Household Cavalry trotting out for exercise.

8.38 Office: I finally saw some fully-laden buses heading towards central London, with the No 9 and No 10 looking especially rammed. The traffic might have been a bit worse than usual. In the office, there was a heads-down and don't-mention-the-journey atmosphere. At least not till everyone starts to worry about the journey home.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron visiting a primary school last year  

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
Zoë Ball says having her two children was the best thing ever to happen to her  

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn