Thursday, June 11, 2009

RMT Tube strikes paralysed London... or did it?

Last two weeks was a blur with lots happening in City of London. As if the credit crunch the crippled the capital's financial industry and the swine flu, which has since infected more than 500 souls in the UK alone, are not enough, The Telegraph threw a spanner in the works by exposing the expenses excesses (and fraud) of the MPs in Westminster. With Prime Minister Gordon Brown's leadership woes, Labour's dismay showings in the European Union Parliament election and the ascension of British National Party. Life's in the Westminster is like a box of chocolates… hear hear.

If you think that was the end of the story, you are sadly mistaken. National Union of Railway, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has mandated a 48 hr strike from Tues evening till Thurs evening, which threatened to paralyse London during peak travel hours. In the face of adversity, how did Londoners hold up?

Tube+strikeQuite well, surprisingly. Many simply put on their walking shoes and were out in full force on the streets, determined to get into the office by hook or by crook. Out came the armada of bicycles, which had to reckoned with the traffic jams not least caused by the increased bus services. One biker even offered stranded commuters a ride through his twitter account.

Though the strike was supposed to be network wide, I was pleasantly surprised to find Northern Line function normally on Wednesday morning. Curiously, there were less passengers on the train then normal. I suspected that it was because the not many people knew of the fact that that Northern Line was functioning at all.

I was right.

This morning was an absolute nightmare. Commuters packed into the Northern Line trains once they realised that some Tube workers had chosen to cross the picket line and turned up for work. Despite the trains arriving at three minutes' interval, I had to let seven trains passed before I managed to squeeze into the eighth one.

Was late by almost an hour for work as a result. I might as well walk to work instead.

Well, looking at the comments made by the commuters, there wasn't much sympathy for the Union's cause. The fact that the basic salary of a Tube driver is almost two thirds that of a Member of Parliament didn't cut any ice either.

What about you? Were you affected by the Tube strikes?

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9 comments:

FĂ«anor said...

hey. you're right - the northern line was crowded this morning. yesterday i took a train to city thameslink (near st paul's) and walked and bussed a bit. with all that traffic, the buses crawled, so it was better to walk. i'm thinking of walking to farringdon this evening and taking the thameslink back home. beats the crush on the northern line.

but the cheek of the RMT! in these deflationary times they want guaranteed job security and 5% hikes. amazing.

C K said...

@Feanor,
I'll be walking back this evening. Who knows? Might just bump into you. lol

To be honest, the strike doesn't really affect me that much. Got me seriously thinking about walking to work on a daily basis. 40 min each way... it can't be that bad, can it?

As for the RMT, well, it seems that they have bitten off more than they can chew this time round. With the general public against them, I don't think the Mayor would budge this time round.

waitingkitty said...

Walking 40 mins each way to work sound viable. Will be a good workout too. Save you money and makes you healthy. SO how's the weather? It's getting really wet and hot in HK right now. Impossible to walk to work...will be dripping wet in sweat by the time I reach office.

Lady Banana said...

I don't have an ounce of sympathy for them - they earn way more than I even imagined.

I work for NHS and don't come anywhere near that and we can't go on strike for more!

Reeta said...

I agree with Lady Banana...they earn a decent wage yet are continually dissatisfied.

I wasn't in London during the strike but I can only imagine how dreadful it must have been as I was in London the previous weekend and had to get to the O2 with the Jubilee line down...took me 3 hrs to get back to Camden Town. arghh!

myi4u said...

It is always troublesome to travel during weekend. These best is to drive down to London since the parking is free during weekend and no congestion charge ..

The traffic might be slightly heavy during weekend but it is still better than getting stuck underground, haha...

C K said...

@waitingkitty,
40min is fine for a day or two but my legs started to buckle on the third. I think the one quid saved per trip wouldn't enough to pay for the glucosamine for my knees... :)

London's weather a balmy 22 deg celsius now. I would prefer it a little cooler actually. 17 would be good... oh, I am spoilt.


@Lady Banana,
Quite a number of people are surprised at the amount that the Tube workers are paid as well. Perhaps it's to compensate them for the boring time spent confined up the front of the train?

@Reeta,
Though Jubilee Line is the newest addition to the Tube system, it has been always plagued with problems. I wonder why.

I pity the tourists who have to put up with the strikes though.


@myi4u,
Wouldn't it be troublesome to find a parking lot in central London during weekends? Imagine being stuck in jam during the weekends.

Rudy said...

When I was in Toronto, we used to have public transit strikes at least once every 5 years. It was pathetic. The entire city was held hostage.

Totally unacceptable.

They should really dismantle the Union. I don't see their usefulness, at all.

C K said...

@Rudy,
Once every 5 years? That's pretty decent, isn't it? There's a general tube strike every year I am here.

Read that Paris will be introducing auto trains thereby removing the need for 250 Metro train drivers and reducing the disruption brought upon by strikes.

Think that it'll help?