London commuters hit by fourth Tube strike

Millions of Londoners battled to get to work in freezing conditions on Monday as the city’s underground rail workers staged a 24-hour strike, their fourth walkout since September over proposed station job cuts.

Transport for London (TFL), which operates the publicly controlled network known as the Tube, said ten of its 11 lines were open, though many were not fully functioning, trying the patience of weary commuters used to enduring daily disruptions on the 140-year-old creaking network.

TFL said the Tube had carried half the usual number of passengers during the day.

London Underground had operated half its usual number of trains for “large parts” of the day and it intended to keep up to 40 percent of services running during the evening, it said.

TFL said more than three-quarters of the 270 underground stations were open. But unions said 114 had been shut, accusing management of operating “ghost trains” with few people on them in a public relations exercise.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ (RMT) union said industrial action had been “rock solid,” knocking out or severely disrupting most lines since the strike began on Sunday evening.

“We will review the strategy this week and look at the tactics required to stop these attacks on jobs, services and safety and that includes looking at ratcheting up the action,” RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said in a statement.

TFL said good services were operating on the capital’s bus network, Docklands Light Railway and overground trains.

A cold snap gripping the country piled on the misery for commuters as they cycled, walked, took taxis or queued for buses with the Met Office forecasting icy conditions would last for a number of days. However, London has been less badly affected than northeast England and Scotland.

The Tube carries some 3 million passengers daily and business lobbies have said the stoppages cost the capital up to 50 million pounds ($79 million) per day.

There are signs that industrial unrest may be building in Britain — the newly-appointed head of Britain’s largest trade union Unite told Britain’s coalition government on Wednesday that more strikes were inevitable as workers reacted to job losses and spending cuts.

Members of the RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association walked out on Sunday in a dispute over 800 job cuts at underground ticket offices which they argue will affect safety.
Source: Reuters

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