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The BBC's Tom Symonds
"For most of today six key lines have been completely out of action"
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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, 15:56 GMT
Londoners face long trip home
King's Cross Station
There were big queues for buses
Millions of commuters are facing a nightmare journey home after delays caused by a day of strike action on London's tube network.

Action by members of the drivers' union Aslef over safety issues left workers stranded during the morning rush hour, with 92% of services cancelled.

Police say extra officers had to be drafted in to deal with "scuffles" between commuters at bus queues, as remaining rail and road services struggled with the demand.

Tube notice
Many lines had no services running at all
The 24-hour strike is due to end at 1730GMT, but a London Underground spokeswoman said the situation would remain difficult for most of the day.

"Although the official strike finishes at 5.30pm the disruption is likely to be as bad for several hours afterwards," she said.

At one stage fewer than 40 trains out of the usual 476 were in service, and several lines had no trains running at all.

Extra police were called in to patrol bus queues in the City of London, after overcrowding led to confrontations between those waiting.

A City of London police spokesman said: "People have been falling out with people who have failed to observe the queue system."

Tube situation
NO SERVICES: Northern, East London, Circle, Hammersmith and City and Waterloo and City Lines
LIMITED SERVICE: Piccadilly, Victoria, District, Central, Bakerloo, Metropolitan and Jubilee
There have been no formal complaints of assaults and no arrests were made.

British Transport Police reported overcrowding at many main line stations, but no violence.

Police were called to Hammersmith station because of overcrowding fears on the Piccadilly Line.

A London Underground spokeswoman said: "There was such a press of anxious customers waiting to get on the trains that we thought there might be a public order problem."

She added that tube services "should return to normal tomorrow".

"We are sorry that people are having such a rotten day," she said. "We are doing our best but it has to be done safely."

Rush hour 'horrendous'

Other protest groups added to the traffic chaos in the capital.

A convoy of about 250 taxi drivers travelled from Gatwick to central London as part of a dispute with the British Airports Authority, and campaigners from action group Reclaim the Streets held protests in Whitechapel, Seven Sisters and New Cross.

The AA said the strike had had a marked effect on road congestion, as commuters took to their cars.

A spokesman said the rush hour was "horrendous", with parts of the M25 at a standstill.

"We definitely had evidence of more cars on the road than normal because of the strike," he said.

Transport for London said several areas had been gridlocked during the rush hour, including Hackney, Vauxhall Bridge, Kingston and Richmond.

Safety concerns

Hundreds of drivers belonging to the union Aslef are protesting over safety concerns in the run-up to the partial privatisation of the tube. Members held peaceful pickets at depots on Monday.

Alternative arrangements
Buses to run as normal
Free river service between Tower Pier and Waterloo
DLR - extended service
Information at mainline stations
Together with the other big Tube union, RMT, they want greater safety guarantees and closer involvement in the public-private partnership (PPP) suggested by the government.

Ministers recently gave some ground during negotiations, so that firms bidding for contracts to modernise stations and track will now not be involved in managing the tube network.

Absentees beware

Meanwhile, employment lawyers have warned that travel chaos is no excuse for missing work, with absent workers liable to lose a day's pay or even face disciplinary action.

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

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

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

London Mayor Ken Livingstone described the situation as "totally unreasonable" and called on tube managers and the unions to resolve the situation before any further strikes.

"It has been provoked by London Underground managers who have been consistently unconvincing about safety on the tube to myself and the trade unions," he said.

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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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