Boris Johnson got the Underground to work this morning in a show of defiance as a two-day Tube strike ordered by firebrand Bob Crow failed to bring London to a standstill.

As workers walked out in a row over 950 proposed ticket office job losses, a picture emerged of a sleepy-looking worker apparently dozing on the job at Paddington Station.

The image appeared on Twitter today and – although it is unclear when it was taken – it will enrage commuters who faced extra long journeys to their offices as a result of the industrial action.

Mr Crow – who has a bronze tan after sunning himself on the beach in Rio last week – was criticised by Downing Street this morning for pressing ahead with the strike and heaping misery on families.

 
'Asleep on the job': A London Underground ticket office worker appears to be sleeping in her chair as she relaxes at Paddington station. Today Underground workers walked out on strike over proposals to axe 950 ticket office jobs

‘Asleep on the job’: A London Underground ticket office worker appears to be sleeping in her chair as she relaxes at Paddington station. Today Underground workers walked out on strike over proposals to axe 950 ticket office jobs.

Travel chaos: Commuters queue outside the underground station as a tube strike over ticket office closures caused chaos across London

Travel chaos: Commuters queue outside the underground station as a tube strike over ticket office closures caused chaos across London

 
Bronze Bob: Fresh from sunning himself on a beach in Rio, union leader Bob Crow took London underground workers out on strike today - causing travel chaos for millions of people

Bronze Bob: Bob Crow used a complicated analogy involving chimney sweeps being retrained as heating engineers to explain why the tube strike was necessary
 

Bronze Bob: Fresh from sunning himself on a beach in Rio, union leader Bob Crow took London underground workers out on strike today – causing travel chaos for millions of people

 

 

BBC ‘PRO UNDERGROUND STRIKE’

The BBC appeared to back the Tube strike this morning by only featuring passengers who said they understood why Underground workers were not in work in coverage of the walk out.

Despite thousands of Londoners taking to Twitter to complain about disruption to their journeys because of the tube strike, passengers interviewed by the Corporation all favoured the strikes.

Three tube passengers were interviewed by the broadcaster at Euston station, with their views broadcast in Radio 4’s News Bulletin at 5.30am today.

None said they would be adversely affected by the limited service, which has left many unhappy Underground commuters seeking alternative travel arrangements – walking miles to get to work or cramming onto packed buses.

Two of the three interviewed said they understood Rail, Maritime and Transport union boss Bob Crow’s reasons for calling the 48 hour strike, while the other said she was not bothered about the walk out.

‘Look, fair play to them,’ one of those interviewed by the BBC last night said.

‘They’re not getting paid enough – if they want to strike, let them strike.’

He was branded a ‘dinosaur’ by Jeremy Paxman on the BBC’s Newsnight but, faced with the accusation, he replied: ‘At the end of the day, they [the dinosaurs] was around for a long while.’

Although many Underground train stations are closed, a skeleton service is operating on most lines enabling many commuters – including London Mayor Mr Johnson – to get the Tube to work as normal.

Thousands more avoided central London altogether by taking the day off or working from home.

Services were hit last night immediately after the two-day strike over 950 ticket office job losses started at 9.30pm. Train passengers were also having problems because of a return to the wet and windy weather which has devastated travel across the UK.

Southeastern trains said the forecast weather, after the wettest January for a century, presented a risk of further flooding, landslips and falling trees. Network Rail put in place a 40mph speed restriction across parts of the Southeastern network.

Commuters this morning condemned the industrial action amid confusion about what train services were still running.

Pregnant Alison Randall, 32, who works in HR and lives in Croydon in south London said: ‘I’m supposed to be in Canary Wharf and don’t know how I’m going to get there.

‘I’m seven months pregnant so I don’t want to be walking long distances or wait half an hour to get onto a packed tube train. And there are no buses running to Canary Wharf.

‘The only people who lose out because of this strike are ordinary commuters.

‘The London Underground doesn’t care because they still have our money because we all buy season tickets. And the strike is not going to make any difference anyway.’

@AngryBritain tweeted: ‘Not really sure how striking by human beings in protest over being replaced by machines who are still working is a winning idea?’

Crowds gathered round Waterloo Station and scrambled to take buses. But some commuters said there was a shortage of replacement services.

@mattnicholls tweeted: ‘Not much sign of these fabled “extra buses” in Camden this morning. Waited 20mins for a 168 that was – predictably – full.’

Jo-Ann Robertson added: ‘After queuing for 30 minutes I am now on the bus. I don’t understand why Bob Crow thinks that striking is going to move things forward.’

London’s mayor Boris Johnson called the strike ‘pointless’ and said that bringing in automatic tube payments to replace ticket offices will save ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’.

CHAOS ON THE UNDERGROUND: TUBE STATIONS CLOSED AND A SKELETON SERVICE IN OPERATION DURING STRIKE

A 48-hour tube strike got underway last night – and although a skeleton service is in operation most services are cancelled. Many stations are closed altogether, with occasional services on most lines.

Bakerloo – Trains from Queen’s Park to Elephant & Castle. Not stopping at Edgware Road, Embankment, Kilburn Park, Lambeth North, Maida Vale, Piccadilly Circus or Regent’s Park stations

Central – No service through the central area. Trains from Epping to Leytonstone, and West Ruislip to White City

District – Trains from Upminster to Wimbledon every eight minutes, and Ealing Broadway to High St Kensington every 20 minutes. Not stopping at Aldgate East, Becontree, Blackfriars, Bromley-by-Bow, Dagenham East, Dagenham Heathway, East Ham, Elm Park, Gloucester Rd, Hornchurch, Plaistow, Sloane Sq, Stepney Green, Temple, Upminster Bridge, Upney or Upton Park

Hammersmith & City and Circle – Trains Hammersmith to Moorgate. Not stopping Barbican, Euston Square and Great Portland Street

Jubilee – Trains Stanmore to Finchley Road, and Waterloo to Stratford. Not stopping Bermondsey and Southwark

Metropolitan – Trains Harrow-on-the-Hill to Aldgate. Not stopping Barbican, Euston Square, Great Portland St, Northwick Park and Preston Rd

Northern – Trains over the whole line (except to Mill Hill East) via Bank and Charing Cross branches. Not stopping at Borough, Chalk Farm, Clapham North and South, Colliers Wood, Embankment, Goodge St, Hampstead, Highgate, Leicester Sq, Mornington Crescent, Old Street, Oval, South Wimbledon, Tooting Bec, Tufnell Park and Warren Street.

Piccadilly – No service through the central area. Trains Acton Town to Heathrow Terminals 1-3 and Arnos Grove to Cockfosters. Trains not stopping at Heathrow Terminal 4 or Southgate

Victoria – Trains Seven Sisters to Victoria, not stopping Warren Street

Waterloo & City – No service

‘We need to modernise and automate the tube. We need to take advantage of new technology that fives people the option of automatic payment systems that will enable us to save hundreds of millions of pounds,’ he said.

‘We can put that into new track, new signalling and to allow, for instance, to run trains 24 hours.’

Downing Street repeated the Prime Minister’s call for Mr Crow to call off the strike.

David Cameron’s official spokesman told a regular Westminster media briefing: ‘The Prime Minister’s view is that Bob Crow should have called off the strike and should do so before further misery is heaped on hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of hard-working families.

‘The strike has been called by Mr Crow’s union and others and the responsibility for calling it off is entirely theirs.’

Bob Crow, leader of the RMT, used an analogy involving chimney sweeps to explain they were not anti-modernisation.

‘We don’t go round saying because central heating is coming in we still need chimney sweeps because houses are being built without chimneys,’ he said on Newsnight.

‘So what do you do with them? You turn the chimney sweeps into central heating engineers and that is what we are saying about London Underground.’

During the interview, he added: ‘Technology is coming in and we want to sit down the the company (Transport for London) and agree how this is being applied.

‘What we want to do is sit round a table, not to be told that workers of 25 or 30 years are out of the job. These people  were heroes by the way when the terror attacks took place in London.

‘Surely you don’t just come out and say with three months notice we are going to get rid of these jobs.’

 

 

 
Disruption: Hundreds queue outside Waterloo Underground Station before 7am this morning when a limited tube service was due to get started

Disruption: Hundreds queue outside Waterloo Underground Station before 7am this morning when a limited tube service was due to get started

 

 
Defiance: Some Underground workers went to work as normal today in defiance of Bob Crow's call for action over ticket office closures

Defiance: Some Underground workers went to work as normal today in defiance of Bob Crow’s call for action over ticket office closures

Bob Crow and Manuel Cortes, leaders of the RMT and TSSA unions, have accused the mayor of refusing to meet them to discuss the ticket office closures.

As the row raged, commuters and other passengers faced travel misery until services return to normal on Friday.

Another 48-hour strike is planned from 9pm next Tuesday.

Business groups warned the strikes will cost London’s economy tens of millions of pounds.

London Overground trains became so crowded that passengers were unable to board them at stations in north-west London.

To add to the chaos a packed Overground train at North Wembley was delayed after a passenger pulled an emergency cord.

Mr Crow said: ‘As we expected the action is rock solid this morning and has reduced the network to a skeleton service with only a few ghost trains running through closed stations.

‘That is simply a reflection of the staff anger at attempts to bulldoze through cuts to jobs, services and safety which would reduce the Tube to a dangerous, hollowed-out shell.

 

 

‘No one can now question the determination of the Tube workforce in the face of the mayor’s cuts plans.

‘I am making it clear again this morning that the unions remain available for talks at any time aimed at resolving this dispute and we just hope that offer is taken up.

‘We have set out a clear route to move this issue forwards and we await a response from LU.’

 

 

 
Busy: Waterloo train station at rush hour this morning. Many overground train lines were quieter than normal as commuters worked from home to avoid the disruption

Busy: Waterloo train station at rush hour this morning. Many overground train lines were quieter than normal as commuters worked from home to avoid the disruption.

Mr Cortes said fewer than a third of normal Tube trains were running during this morning’s rush hour with ‘overwhelming’ support for the action from his members.

He called on the mayor to enter into immediate peace talks and end ‘government by gimmick’ in the capital.

‘All we have is a fringe service in the outer suburbs with virtually the whole of central London dependent on a skeleton service. Over 70% of the normal service is at a standstill.

‘It is now time to end government by gimmick and for Boris to enter serious talks.

‘His so-called army of volunteers has turned out to be a phantom army as the scores of closed stations illustrate only too clearly.

‘Londoners and the travelling public deserve better than this. We remain ready to talk immediately, any time, anywhere.’

 


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