London commuters’ fury over Tube and rail strikes

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Workers face a hellish journey home this evening amid further rush hour chaos with the Central Line closed and Tube disruptions expected all weekend.

Furious commuters blasted striking train and Tube drivers today as a ‘triple whammy’ of walk-outs left workers struggling to get across London. 

More problems were expected tonight, with the Waterloo and City line closed until mid-morning tomorrow – leading to huge queues and heaving platforms.

Commuters were seen stuck in tunnels and spilling out onto pavements this morning as they tried to get to work during what was branded an ‘utter shambles’.

Angered travellers who pay hundreds of pounds a month for their tickets have said they are ‘losing wages’ or cannot find a suitable way to the office.

South Western Railway services into London Waterloo were also cancelled today as a separate 48-hour strike by RMT union train guards began. 

The last-minute Aslef strike on the Tubes was only announced on Tuesday, leaving commuters with little time to replan their journeys to and from work.

Those who made it to Waterloo today, were greeted with little or no service on the one-stop Waterloo & City line to Bank, which is used by 35,000 a day were affected. The Central line carries 800,000 passengers alone every day.

Angered rail users who descended on stations this morning as they attempted to get to work, were scathing about Transport for London (TfL) and SWR.

Aslef train drivers are striking after an ‘experienced driver’ was sacked.

The unnamed driver had an ‘exemplary’ record but opened train doors while two carriages were still in a tunnel at Wanstead station shortly before the morning peak period. An appeal hearing upheld the sacking.

But in solidarity, his colleagues have walked out. 

Susan Douse said she was advised by the Journey Planner section on the TfL app she wold need to catch multiple buses across the city. 

She said: ‘I removed ‘tube’ and it didn’t change. It would be quicker to walk with the suitcases then to get 6 buses!’

Other Londoners said they had ‘no idea’ how they would get to work.

Nick Pearmain said Londoners pay too much to be hit with such drastic action. 

He said on Twitter: ‘Been waiting ages for a train…. I pay £131.10 a month on a zone 1-2 travel card. Can TfL explain to us what we spend our money on?! I don’t care if central line is on strike, TFL knew about this and should have provided more trains somehow?!’ 

Some said Uber and other taxi firms had hiked up their prices. 

Another woman added: ‘TfL an absolute shambles as usual! why then suggest a bus stop at buckhurst hill station that is closed?! £238 a month on travel, to then just spend on taxis to sit in rush hour traffic and get nowhere.’

Furious commuters have blasted the action on Twitter. 

Many are angered over what are deemed to be generous pay and working conditions for Tube drivers.

Jayne Rudolph said: ‘Should be grateful that they have a jobI they get paid a lot for what they do.. lots of people out there that would gladly do the job for the pay..’ 

Business chiefs have condemned the ‘senseless’ action, the Evening Standard reported.

CBI, Federation of Small Businesses, London First and the London Chamber of Commerce have slammed the strikes.

John Dickie, director of policy and strategy at London First, told the Evening Standard: ‘Commuters are being forced to choose between using a day’s holiday, losing a day’s pay or enduring a nightmare journey.

He added that ‘enough is enough, this senseless action must stop’.

Sue Terpilowski, London policy representative of the FSB, said that small businesses in London rely on a fully functioning transport network.

SWR will cancelled a third of services, 550 trains, while 750 will be pulled on Saturday.

The SWR strike is the latest in a series of walkouts by guards protesting the implementation of driver-only operation.

Union chiefs said it is vital the strikes take place to protect those travelling on trains.

The RMT said its survey of the safety role played by guards was backed up by new British Transport Police figures which showed a 17% surge in violence on Britain’s railways.

The union surveyed 800 guards, with four out of five saying they had prevented an emergency situation and used their safety-critical training in an actual emergency.

Half had prevented at least one sexual assault and 98 per cent have dealt with anti-social behaviour.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘In contrast to the cost-cutting plans and misleading propaganda dreamt up in Whitehall and the rail boardrooms, this survey shows the reality of the vital role train guards play at the sharp end to ensure a safe, secure and accessible railway.

‘In their own words, these dedicated rail workers are warning of the horrific consequences of there no longer being a guard to provide assistance and to help deal with emergencies, violent behaviour, sexual assaults and the terrorist threat.

‘Unsurprisingly, 97 per cent of guards in our survey felt the main reason companies are introducing driver-only trains is to increase profits, with the same number saying the Government is on side of the train companies and not passengers.

‘It’s time the Government and rail bosses stopped thinking about the bottom line and listened to voices of rail workers delivering on the front line.’

Aslef and Tube chiefs were unable to resolve the row yesterday, but many commuters have taken aim at London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Bas Tonks said: ‘Hey Sadiq Khan – I thought you promised no tube strikes when you became Mayor?’ 

Aslef official Finn Brennan said: ‘Despite our best efforts, we were unable to make real progress at Acas talks.

‘Management still refuse to move on the key issues in this dispute. Bizarrely, they are refusing to hold a review into the dismissal of a driver until Friday afternoon, 14 hours after the strike will have started.

‘Aslef asked that this case be reviewed on August 2 and repeatedly requested that this review be brought forward.

‘Instead of trying to resolve this dispute, management are engaged in macho posturing that does a real disservice to all those who will be inconvenienced by the strike on Friday.

‘The issues at the heart of this dispute are about people being treated fairly and with dignity at work. It is simply wrong that a driver with 25 years of excellent service should be summarily dismissed for one error of judgment when dealing with a defective train or permanently removed from driving duties because they have time off sick after a traumatic incident.’ 

 The strike action was proposed in protest of a range of issues on the Central line including the ‘imposition’ of unsafe working practices. 

The strikes follows four days of disruption on the Piccadilly line last week by members of the RMT in a separate dispute .

SWR passengers face added disruption over the weekend due to widespread Network Rail engineering work and from Sunday a revised timetable – meaning longer journeys on some routes – will come into force to deal with leaves-on-the-line.

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash, said: ‘There’s a simple solution to ‎this dispute and it means SWR stop playing with words and negotiate the guard guarantee that reflects the best safety practice elsewhere in the industry.’

The strike comes as Wetherspoons workers joined staff from McDonald’s, TGI Fridays, Uber Eats and Deliveroo on a walkout today.

Workers were demanding better working conditions in the hospitality sector, pay of £10 an hour and an end to what they call ‘precarious’ contracts. 

Hospitality workers, couriers and cab drivers are taking part in a ‘day of action’ organised by the group War On Want and the union Unite.

There was also a 48-hour tube strike on the Piccadilly Line in London last week by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union.

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