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Rivals dispute Tube strike impact


People queue outside Oxford Circus underground station, in central London, during the evening rush hour as the Tube strike continues

People queue outside Oxford Circus underground station, in central London, during the evening rush hour as the Tube strike continues

People queue outside Oxford Circus underground station, in central London, during the evening rush hour as the Tube strike continues

A row over the level of services running on London Underground has flared as travellers faced a second day of disruption because of a continuing strike by Tube workers in a long-running row over ticket office closures.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will end a 48-hour walkout at 9pm tonight, with a further three-day stoppage planned for next week.

LU said half of train services ran yesterday and two-thirds of Tube stations were open, much more than during a previous strike in February. Nearly 90% of the usual number of Oyster cards were used on Transport for London's network, according to the company.

But the RMT accused LU of "misleading" the public over the level of services and of leaving platforms and stations "dangerously overcrowded."

The union said the strike remained "rock solid".

Acting general secretary Mick Cash said: "It helps no one for LU to deliberately mislead the public as to what services are available as it simply piles dangerous levels of pressure on to the ghost trains and skeleton operations, leaving passengers and staff at risk.

"You cannot turn the crucial issue of Tube safety into a high-risk PR stunt designed to do nothing more than prop up the political position and cuts agenda of this Government and London's Tory mayor.

"Instead of producing bogus timetables, Tube chiefs should be around the table responding positively to RMT's proposals for resolving a dispute which is about nothing more than cash-led cuts to jobs, services and safety."

Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground, said 15% more staff worked yesterday than during the previous strike.

He appealed for fresh talks, adding: "Under our plans to modernise the Tube, we are committed to a safe railway with visible staff personally serving our passengers.

"Fairness to our staff is guaranteed - there will be no compulsory redundancies, there is a job for all staff wanting to remain with us and no one will lose pay.

"We have made significant changes to our original proposals after listening to our people and the unions in over 40 meetings.

"The RMT leadership know the real motivations behind their action, but it is infuriating that London's commuters and businesses are the ones who are being forced to pay the price with this unnecessary disruption."

Mayor Boris Johnson said: "The idea that this is a solidly supported strike is farcical. This action is the result of a minority of just one union, the RMT, who are refusing to see the logic of what we are trying to achieve."

Passengers crowded on to the services running this morning. So great was the crush on London Overground trains in north-west London that services were held up as the doors would not shut.

Some passengers were unable to board the packed Overground trains and faced 20-minute waits for the next, jammed, service.

LU said some services were running on all 11 Tube lines despite the strike and it was hoping to operate at least as many trains as yesterday.

Mike Brown said: "I'm sorry that Londoners are enduring more disruption today as a result of the RMT's pointless strike action. The only sensible course is for the RMT leadership to call off the strikes and get back to working with us to shape the future of the Tube, as the other three unions are doing.

"It was tough for our customers yesterday, but with more staff arriving for work than during the last strike in February, we were able to run 50% of the train service and keep two-thirds of stations open.

"Nearly 90% of the normal number of Oyster cards were used yesterday. We will be working really hard again to further improve this level of service."

Heathrow Express said it was transporting its usual daily volume of 17,000 people between the airport and London Paddington despite an RMT strike in a separate dispute which was reducing its available workforce by two-thirds.

RMT members began a 48-hour strike at 3am on Tuesday and trains are running every 30 minutes, from 6.10am until after 10pm, rather than every 15 minutes.

A spokesman for Heathrow Express said: "Despite only having a third of workforce available due to the RMT strike, yesterday we took 17,000 people between Heathrow and London Paddington. Today we are continuing to run trains every 30 minutes, rather than the usual 15 minutes."