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London Tube staff strike lead to chaotic rush hour scenes

London's roads, buses and overland trains struggled to cope with the morning rush hour on Thursday as commuters battled into work following London Underground's first strike shutdown since 2002.

world Updated: Jul 09, 2015 16:18 IST
Early morning commuters form queues to board buses at Victoria station during a tube strike in London on July 9, 2015. London's roads, buses and overland trains struggled to cope in Thursday's morning rush hour as commuters battled into work in the face of London Underground's first strike shutdown since 2002. (AFP PHOTO)
Early morning commuters form queues to board buses at Victoria station during a tube strike in London on July 9, 2015. London's roads, buses and overland trains struggled to cope in Thursday's morning rush hour as commuters battled into work in the face of London Underground's first strike shutdown since 2002. (AFP PHOTO)

London's roads, buses and overland trains struggled to cope with the morning rush hour on Thursday as commuters battled into work following London Underground's first strike shutdown since 2002.

Many of the major trunk roads into the capital were log-jammed and there were chaotic scenes at bus stops and overland train stations as passengers sought alternative ways to get to work on time.

Twitter users posted pictures of overcrowded train platforms and long queues outside the stations while one commuter described scenes of "absolute carnage" on the buses.

Taxi firm Uber reported demand was "off the charts!" with fares almost trebling as a result.

Drivers are staging the 24-hour walkout in protest at pay and plans for a new 24-hour service due to start in September.

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Union banners on display outside the closed gates of Brixton underground station during a tube strike in London on July 9, 2015. (AFP PHOTO)

Commuters rushed home ahead of the start of the strike at 6:30 pm (1730 GMT) on Wednesday, as unions mounted picket lines outside stations and Transport for London (TfL) began reporting delays.

A full shutdown came into force on Thursday, and TfL has warned that disruptions to the British capital's public transport could continue into Friday.

Transport for London, the local government organisation responsible for most aspects of London's transport system, said it would lay on 200 extra buses and more bicycle rental hubs, although it also posted walking maps of London on its website.

"Londoners who own a bike are encouraged to cycle to work," the network administrator said in a statement.

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Protesters from the ASLEF and RMT unions stand at the locked gates of Brixton underground station during a tube strike in London on July 9, 2015. (AFP PHOTO)

To reach the Wimbledon tennis tournament, which ends this weekend, TfL said it was organising a taxi-sharing service from the nearest train station.

Prime Minister David Cameron's spokeswoman on Wednesday called the strike "unacceptable and unjustified", while London Mayor Boris Johnson said it was "politically motivated".

New all-night Underground services are due to start in September and drivers have been offered a pay increase, which was rejected by union leaders on Wednesday.

London Underground's managing director Mike Brown said an all-night Tube service would support jobs and boost the city's economy, adding that the offer had been "remarkably fair".