Millions face travel problems due to London Underground strikes
The travel plans of more than three million commuters will be hit by a wave of London Underground strikes starting on Monday with people being urged to use bikes and river boats as alternatives.
The walkout by 10,000 Tube workers will disrupt services as UK MPs return to Parliament after the recess and many people get back to work after the summer break.
The first walkout, involving up to 200 maintenance workers employed by a London Underground contractor, started on Sunday night in a row over pay and conditions.
But the stoppages will bite from 5pm this evening when RMT drivers walk out for 24 hours in protest at plans to axe 800 jobs along with maintenance and back office staff who are members of the Transport and Salaried Staffs Association.
Four hours later station staff will join the action, leading to a wave of closures even though 60pc of train drivers who are members of the ASLEF trade union and involved in the dispute are expected to work normally.
Transport for London is appealing to the travelling public to use their ingenuity to beat the strike.
Demand for the 5,000 "Boris bikes" in the new London cycle hire scheme is expected to soar despite the Met Office forecasting heavy rain this evening.
On Tuesday morning, when the strikes are expected to have their greatest impact, additional buses will be laid on and cyclists will be able to join guided rides, where experienced chaperones will guide them into the centre of London.
An alternative will be to use the riverboat service, where fares will be halved from the normal £3 a journey to £1.50 with Oyster cards being accepted.
Thames Clippers, the operators of the riverboat service, will be making an additional 10,000 places available. This will entail an additional shuttle service between Tower, Westminster and London Eye piers.
TfL has also asked staff to volunteer to help in the effort to keep transport services running, triggering accusations from RMT that stations will be manned by employees without the required safety licence.
This was strongly denied by TfL, who said the volunteers would act as guides and be handing out leaflets. No station would be allowed to open unless it has the required number of staff with the required licence.
The strikes will be followed by further stoppages in October and November,
Boris Johnson, who described Londoners as a "hardy bunch" urged commuters to consider different ways of getting to and from work.
"The extra measures we have put in call for a team effort and people will need to consider buses, boats or bikes as an alternative to their usual journeys.
"But this planned action will cause disruption for millions of Londoners and I call on the unions to get round the table and show common sense."
Mr Johnson's handling of the dispute was attacked by Oona King, who is making a bid to be Labour's candidate in the next London mayoral election.
“The Mayor needs to act, and to tell us what he is doing to get involved in the negotiations, not sit back and let the strike happen. Is he happier trying to discredit the unions, rather than ensuring that Londoners and London's businesses are not put out?”
Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, attacked the strike as bad for passengers, business and London.
“At a time when public finances are under pressure strikes by tube workers are seriously damaging and undermine the case we are making within the spending review for continued investment in the Tube."