Commuters Suffer Travel Misery as Strike Paralyses London Underground

Commuters Suffer Travel Misery as Strike Paralyses London Underground
A commuter stands by the closed shutters at the entrance to Euston underground station in central London, on Nov. 10, 2022. (PA Media/Jonathan Brady)
Alexander Zhang

Commuters in London are suffering from severe travel disruptions as the Underground services are hit by renewed strike action.

Nine out of the 11 London Underground lines were shut down on Thursday morning after members of the Rail, Maritime, and Transport (RMT) union and the Unite union walked out in a long-running dispute over jobs and pensions.

Picket lines were mounted outside Tube stations across the capital, and many buses were packed as commuters sought alternative forms of transport.

John Leach, assistant general secretary of the RMT, urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to “stand up for staff and do a proper finance deal” which gives Transport for London (TfL) “money it needs to keep the capital city moving.”

He said that TfL has traded off the staff pension, jobs, and their conditions of employment “for some bad deal.”

Union Leader Warns of Further Strikes

The RMT said it offered to suspend the strike during talks, but accused TfL of rejecting its proposals.

TfL’s chief operating officer, Glynn Barton, said no proposals to change pensions or conditions have been made.

TfL’s recent funding agreement with the government requires it to develop options around pensions, but the organisation said if changes are to be made, there will be consultations and further work before any decisions are taken.

RMT said commuters should expect further strikes in the future if the dispute remains unresolved.

Asked if there will be further action, Leach told the PA news agency: “I hope not, I very much hope not, but if there’s no progress made around the table on these issues in discussions with the management and they continue to attack our pensions, jobs, and contracts, the answer is yes.”

Adapting to Disruptions

Despite the disruptions, location technology firm TomTom said there was little change in traffic on London’s roads on Thursday morning compared with a week ago.

The congestion level at 8 a.m. was 106 percent, which was unchanged from the same time on the preceding Thursday.

TomTom traffic expert Andy Marchant said: “Those brave enough to face the road today might be slightly surprised by the level of traffic, as congestion levels during this morning’s rush hour increased only slightly.

“Our data suggests that workers are beginning to become accustomed to disruption and are planning their commute accordingly or choosing to stay at home altogether, heeding the advice to avoid any unnecessary travel.”

PA Media contributed to this report.