March 13 2014 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Commuters faced congestion and disruption today despite Hampstead and Highgate Tube stations remaining open in the face of London-wide Tube strikes.
The Hampstead, Highgate and Belsize Park stations were open and running normally despite prior warnings that all would be closed due to a 48-hour walkout of staff called by unions RMT and TSSA from 9pm yesterday.
A Transport for London (TfL) spokesman said that as more staff than expected turned up for work today, it was able to safely open stations it had planned to close.
However, roads in Hampstead were still hit by severe congestion as a result of the strike, with Church Row suffering from severe early morning traffic.
A second 48-hour walkout is due to begin at 9pm next Tuesday, in protest at TfL’s plans to close all ticket offices and cut 950 jobs.
TfL insists the measures are needed to modernise systems and save £50million a year.
Closures to Jubilee line stations between Waterloo and Finchley Road were enforced today as planned, causing huge disruption.
Large queues of commuters wishing to use Swiss Cottage Tube station were forced to wait for buses outside the closed station, with many deciding to abandon their journeys altogether.
Belsize Park resident Tom Bullen, 28, intended to travel to work at a recording studio in Baker Street but decided to return home after waiting among the crowds in Swiss Cottage.
He said: “I’m ready to give up and go home, it’s just totally pointless. I’m annoyed with the unions because as far as I can tell no one is going to lose their jobs.
“There’s no point in having ticket offices anymore; no one uses ticket offices.”
Former university lecturer Dr David Stone, 64, of Belsize Park, abandoned his plans to travel to Westminster for a meeting with Hampstead and Kilburn MP Glenda Jackson after encountering the queues in Swiss Cottage.
He said: “I could just wait and see if I can squeeze on to a bus like cattle but then there’s the problem of whether I will get back.
“There are a lot of people completely stranded and looking completely miserable about it. I’m going to abandon my plans today.
“It’s been a write-off and if you multiply that over all the millions across the city, it must be very damaging to London.
“I’m not annoyed with any party. It shows a lack of maturity from all sides in not being able to sit down around a table.
“There must be a better way to handle disputes than like this.”