Long crawl to work as east Londoners find ways to beat Tube strike
PUBLISHED: 10:53 05 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:43 05 February 2014
The Tube strike hit east London’s commuters this-morning with a vengeance.
Tens of thousands of stranded Underground passengers spent a miserable morning trying to get to work on the first full day of the 48-hour stoppage called by the RMT rail union protesting at ticket office closures and the loss of 750 jobs.
Long queues grew outside Stepney Green, Whitechapel and Aldgate East stations, on the District and Hammersmith and City lines, as well as Mile End also served by the Central.
On the buses, passengers were packed like sardines on routes along the Mile End Road, Whitechapel Road, Bethnal Green Road, Roman Road and Cambridge Heath Road.
Some trains were running on the Central from Leytonstone, but only calling at Mile End and Liverpool Street, running straight through Bethnal Green without stopping.
The automatic DLR network through Docklands kept running, but its driverless trains were programmed for a while not to stop at Canning Town, West Ham or Stratford stations where London Underground staff were absent, resulting in “safety” issues.
Stratford station served by National Rail, Central and Jubilee tube lines and the DLR had to be evacuated for safety at the height of the rush-hour because of the surging crowds trying to get onto the platforms.
You would have thought commuters would switch to Boris Bikes. Not so, according to Elizabeth Pfeuti who tweeted a picture of the hire bike rack in Bethnal Green Road still full at 8am.
Others tweeted pictures of District Line stations closed, while Matt Tudball had “fun and games” trying to get to Canary Wharf and finding the Jubilee Line station closed when he eventually made it at 7.20am.
Louise Golbey decided to “power walk” to work to beat the strike and tweeted that she actually got there earlier than usual.
There was support for the striking workers, however, with ‘Cockney Rebel’ tweeting: “I support tube workers—they are standing up for passenger safety, ie, you and me.”
A few commuters were lucky, like Elena Ilie, 28, from Langdon Park in Poplar, who works for Harrod’s department store in Knightsbridge which laid on transport for its staff.
“I’m catching one of the 14 Harrod’s coaches,” she said while waiting at Mile End. “They do that when there are no Tube trains, like Boxing Day.”
Not so lucky was David Byers, 34, from Mile End, trying to get to Putney and thinking Mile End station would be open.
“I manage a team of 15 people at work and told them to plan their journeys—and no excuses for being late,” he said. “But now I’m running really late myself! Mile End was meant to be open. It’s all a bit confusing.”
Rail operators on the Fenchurch Street service laid on extra carriages on c2c trains calling at Upminster and Barking, but trains didn’t stop at the West Ham interchange which is normally staffed by London Underground.