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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 July, 2005, 21:06 GMT 22:06 UK
London's long march
People wait hopefully for a bus

By Brian Wheeler
BBC News reporter, Kings Cross

Tens of thousands of commuters faced the prospect of a long walk home - or even being stranded in London - following the London bombings.

There were few buses and no tube trains running in the centre of the city and the few black cabs on the road already had fares and were not for hire.

If the roads were strangely quiet, the pavements were even more packed than usual as people strode from railway station to railway station in the hope that one might be open.

Many workers were sent home early but would not reach their destination until late in the evening - or will have been forced to find somewhere to stay for the night.

Some stood on street corners trying to work out a route, staring at AtoZs or the photocopied maps being handed out by Citizen's Advice and other volunteers.


At King's Cross, many of the streets were still sealed off, so the walk home was even longer as people were forced to thread their way through the back streets.

Thousands of office workers in suits and ties streamed down the City Road towards the station, after being told, incorrectly, that the Thameslink station, the commuter hub round the corner from the mainline station was open.

Shuttle buses took some of them to Finsbury Park where limited train services were available.

Cheryl Wingfield, who works in Old Street, said: "I have to get back to Luton. I don't know how I'm going to do it. We are running out of ideas."

Her friend Linda Cook said: "We were told to stay put at work and stay away from the windows. Then they said the station was open so we walked down here."

No room at the inn

Another woman said she was trying to get to Leagrave, in Luton.

"I have walked all around the back streets. I don't know what's going to happen if it gets too late. I will have to stay here. I don't know anybody that lives out as far as I do, so I can't get a lift."

The hotels around King's Cross were turning people away.

Paolo Fretes, of the 55-room Swinton Hotel, said: "People have been coming in off the streets looking for a place to stay.

"We have had to turn a lot of people away because we are full. We have been fully booked since this morning, although there have been a lot of cancellations as well.

"People take it pretty well, they know we would probably have no rooms."

Good exercise?

David Wheatley, a construction industry executive, said he had walked for an hour and a half from his office in Edgware Road, near to one of the blasts.

"I am trying to get to Peterborough. I think it should be OK because the trains are running from Finsbury Park."

Steve Carter said he had been walking for "about two hours". "I am trying to get to zone two," he said.

Another man, who did not want to be named, said he had been walking for "nearly four hours."

Like many, he looked tired and harassed. But people are generally in good spirits despite the inconvenience.

"It's good exercise if nothing else," said one man.


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