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Monday, 5 February, 2001, 10:06 GMT
London comes off the rails
It was lucky the British are so good at queuing
It was lucky the British are so good at queuing
By BBC News Online's Daniel Coles

Half the drivers were striking, we were told. The question millions of Londoners will be asking is: "Where were the other half?"

This was not like other strikes, when tube bosses were able to lay on close to normal services.

The system was decimated.

A rush hour that is already the busiest of the week became a bleary-eyed nightmare for millions of commuters.

Hundreds of stations were silent
Hundreds of stations were silent
On Oxford Street, in front of still shuttered shops, workers revised bus timetables and thronged at every stop.

Pavements became packed as queuing commuters jostled for every spare space on the trusty Routemaster buses.

Every few seconds a wobbly cyclist rode by, thousands having dusted down their push bikes for a rare outing.

By half past eight, they were the only thing moving.

Gridlock had descended on the centre of the capital on a scale rarely seen.

For many, walking became the only option, and when the heavens opened London's morning from hell was complete.

What surprised people most was the severity of the disruption, and the lack of information available.

The helpline number was near impossible to get through to, and by late Monday morning information on thetube.com proved as slow as a bus on the A40, while the Transport for London website's "Strike Latest" was still a three-day-old press release.

There was no warning that most lines had no service, with only the Victoria line running a service worthy of the name.

For once, Monday's hours at work were a blissful haven of peace for millions, before the long, dark slog home.

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