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The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"Three million passengers use the underground each day,"
 real 56k

Gwyneth Dunwoody from the Transport Select Committee
"Victory for common sense"
 real 28k

Monday, 5 February, 2001, 12:01 GMT
Tube strike causes travel chaos
Buses were packed through the rush hour
Buses were packed through the rush hour
A 24-hour strike by train drivers on the London Underground is causing severe disruption in the capital.

There are no tube trains running on many lines, and most of the others are running reduced services, creating major problems for commuters and travellers trying to connect with flights or inter-city trains.

Balham Tube station
The barred gates of Balham station, south London
Hundreds of drivers belonging to the union Aslef are protesting over safety concerns in the run-up to the partial privatisation of the tube.

London Underground managers say the biggest problem on the network on Monday is overcrowding as more than a million travellers battle for the reduced service.

The situation on the tube was described by one of its spokesmen on Monday morning as "intolerable."

Aslef represents up to 80% of tube train drivers - which means half the normal number of services could be running until the strike ends at 1730GMT on Monday.

Tube situation (1130 GMT)
NO SERVICES: Northern, East London, Circle, Jubilee, Hammersmith and City and Waterloo and City Lines
LIMITED SERVICE: Piccadilly (17%), Victoria (53%), Central (not through central London), Bakerloo, Metropolitan and District (sporadic)

A London Underground spokesman urged travellers to check information which will be relayed via the media, its website and its information line on 0207 222 1234

The AA reported severe tailbacks on the roads at rush hour, with hundreds of thousands of commuters taking their cars to work. It said roads were 30% busier.

Parking spaces, especially in central London, are expected to be at a premium during the strike.

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) will extend its peak service and a free "turn up and go" river service capable of carrying more than 2,500 passengers an hour will sail every 10 minutes during peak hours from Tower Pier to Waterloo.

Safety concerns

Transport for London (TfL) has also announced plans to hand out bus maps at major railway stations.

Aslef general secretary Mick Rix said the union was sorry that London Underground management had still not seriously addressed the continuing safety concerns on the Tube.

Alternative arrangements
Buses to run as normal
Free river service between Tower Pier and Waterloo
DLR - extended service
Information at mainline stations

Ministers recently gave some ground during negotiations with train unions and the controversial plans to part-privatise the Underground are expected to go ahead.

But the crucial difference will be that the firms bidding for contracts to modernise stations and track will now not be involved in the management of the Tube network.

Aslef and the tube's other big union, the RMT, are seeking guarantees on safety and want closer involvement in the public-private partnership (PPP) plans for the network.

Picket lines

Aslef members picketed depots and there were reports that other workers were refusing to cross picket lines.

A British Transport Police spokesman said the biggest picket lines were at Golders Green, Cockfosters and Baker Street.

He said picketing had been peaceful but added that the transport situation was "disastrous".

Members of the RMT are not legally allowed to take part in the strike under court injunction obtained by London Transport last week.

The travel chaos will be worsened by the closure of a section of line through Kensington, West London.

Managers say the work has been planned for a long time and cannot be cancelled, despite the circumstances.

The strike action is the first of three planned one-day actions. Further strikes are planned on 12 and 19 February.

The strike is expected to cost up to 3.5m in lost revenue.

Peace talks aimed at ending the dispute are expected to be held on Tuesday.

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See also:

05 Feb 01 | UK
London comes off the rails
02 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Tube deal reached
16 Dec 00 | UK Politics
New blow to Tube sell-off plan
13 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Prescott's Tube plan 'fatally flawed'
06 Dec 00 | UK Politics
GLA rejects Tube sell-off
18 Aug 00 | UK Politics
Tube sell-off safety threat
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