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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Commuters grin and bear Tube strike
By Jane Mower
BBC News, central London

Bus queue
Hundreds of people headed for the bus stops near Paddington
The usual crowd of City types were missing from the platform, and when the train arrived there was no-one standing and everyone got a seat. This could only mean one thing - a Tube strike.

True to their word, the businessmen who were overheard the day before talking about the strike and saying "I won't be in London this week" were nowhere to be seen.

It is no wonder that analysts have predicted businesses will lose up to 50m per day as meetings and appointments are cancelled in an attempt to avoid the testing journey into the city.

Near to Paddington the announcements made it clear that no last-minute deal had been made, and the strike was still on.

Good fun

One passenger answered his mobile phone and proclaimed: "Don't worry, there'll be buses, I got one last night and it wasn't too bad."

But with no Tubes running from Paddington, hundreds of people were heading for the same bus stops.

Commuter on skateboard
Rich came armed with his skateboard

Seemingly one step ahead of the game, 35-year-old Rich from Newbury stepped off the train with his skateboard under his arm.

"I usually cycle, or take the Tube if I'm being lazy, but this is good exercise and I can have some fun," he said.

"I think it's going to take me about an hour to get to Southwark."

Buses arrived at the stops already crammed full, but this failed to put people off standing their ground in the queue.

Waiting in line, Jane Tompson, 47, said she was prepared to walk if necessary but she may go home and change her shoes first.

"I usually catch the bus but there are [so many] people trying to do the same thing," she said.

"I've been stood here for five minutes and already a bus has gone past with no-one able to get on.

"I live near Paddington and travel to work in Vauxhall which normally takes me 20 minutes but I think it's going to take considerably longer today."

'Wartime spirit'

Deciding to "give it a go", Anna Kirkham, 23, travelled in on the train from Reading in an effort to make it to Old Street.

She said: "I managed to get the last Tube home last night and we were packed in but it didn't put me off coming in. I just thought I'll give it a go and see how I get on.

Commuter
Jonny Kay experienced "wartime spirit" when he was offered a lift

"Usually I get the Tube and it takes about 35 minutes, but my boss is fairly understanding that I will probably be late today."

As the realisation dawned that a bus journey may no longer be an option, people were faced with the unfamiliar task of negotiating London by foot.

Waiting for his boss outside Paddington station, Peter Lewis said he had been asked for directions by about 15 people.

"I should have a sign saying, 'London Information', the number of people who have asked me for directions."

He said that while the strike was causing chaos, the workers probably deserved what they were fighting for.

"Maintenance is very important, if they are after more money then they probably deserve it."

'Commuters suffer'

While waiting at the station he asked Jonny Kay, 51, - a total stranger - if he would like help to get to work in King's Cross.

Mr Kay said: "I just got talking to Peter and he offered me a lift - this is what happens during a Tube strike, it brings out the wartime spirit.

"Normally it would take me half an hour on the Tube but who knows how long it would take today?"

Commuter
Asha Crochia got up early in anticipation of a long journey

Near Baker Street at least four people stopped to ask for directions, while others stood on corners peering at their A-Zs.

Prepared for a long journey Asha Crochia, 39, got up early to travel from east London, taking a bus to Stratford where she caught a Jubilee Line Tube.

" I would normally get a District Line train so I knew I had to leave a lot earlier to get in," she said.

Despite the extra effort she said she had some sympathy with those striking: "They know the reasons why they are doing it but it is the commuters who suffer."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Tube strikes caused disruptions during the rush hour


How the strike is costing London



SEE ALSO
Tube strike causes travel chaos
04 Sep 07 |  London

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