Nine bosses came under fire on Friday after an underground strike prevented thousands of commuters from getting to work and hit London’s economy hard on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
The RMT walk-out closes the Piccadilly line – including no Tube links to and from Heathrow – and the central section of the Central line that serves Oxford Street and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
Businesses said the strike was “shameful”, while Transport Minister Grant Shapps said: “This is the last thing Londoners need.”
Services ran on the Victoria, Jubilee and Northern lines, which were also targeted by the RMT, though not as often as usual.
There was a normal service on the underground lines such as District and District, which was not subject to union action.
Transport for London said that at 9am it ran 58 per cent of the normal services on the tube. Passenger numbers fell by about 30 percent last Friday, but bus travel increased by four percent.
This is likely to mean about 600,000 fewer subway trips during Friday, a total of 2 million. compared to about 2.6 million. last Friday.
There were strikes outside some subway stations, and the RMT declared that the walk-out – over the drivers’ guards to the Night Tube – was “rock solid”. But TfL executives said the RMT had not been as successful as hoped and believe some members showed up for work.
Andy Lord, CEO of the London Underground, told Standard: “I’m disappointed that we got the action in the first place, but quite happy with the level of service we’ve provided. It’s clear that it’s disruptive and we wanted to avoid it if we could.
“The Piccadilly line and the Central line are the most affected. We have full end-to-end service on the other lines, but with reduced frequencies.
“I am very, very sad on behalf of our customers and businesses in London, who are being affected and bothered by the strike. I am really sorry that someone has been hit by a completely unnecessary labor struggle.
“Not a single driver has lost their job, and not a single driver has been forced into new duty schedules.”
The strike must continue until kl. 430 on Saturday.
Friday morning, a small number of trains ran between Arnos Grove and Cockfosters at the north end of the Piccadilly line.
But Mr Lord said it was “unlikely” that further sections of the Piccadilly line would reopen. He also did not expect a restart of the Central Line services between White City and Liverpool Street.
RMT’s next strike begins on Saturday on the Victoria and Central lines in an attempt to derail the restart of the Night Tube.
A dress rehearsal Friday night will show how many drivers are expected to show up for work Saturday night. TfL expects to run a reduced Night Tube service on the Victoria line, but is unsure on the Central line, which has more RMT members.
Strike ‘damages’ London
Commuters, business leaders and politicians rounded up the RMT, saying they were hurting London.
Simon French, chief economist at City Realtors Panmure Gordon, said the strike could cost central London around £ 10m in lost sales.
Shapps told LBC: “I absolutely appeal to the union not to disturb everyone’s lives. We’ve had enough disruption due to coronavirus.”
Nickie Aiken, the Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said: “That means visitors can not come in and neither can workers, and they are the two sets of people who keep London running.”
Jace Tyrrell, CEO of the New West End Company, said: “The tube strikes are a devastating blow to London’s West End as companies sought to take advantage of what should have been a phenomenal Friday in the run-up to Christmas.”
London First CEO John Dickie said it was “shameful” for RMT to strike at a time when TfL was desperate for money. “In the run-up to Christmas, when London companies and Londoners are trying to recover from the pandemic, it’s also self-indulgent,” he said.
Passenger Costas Rico, 25, who was on his way to work at Heathrow but was forced to make other plans when he discovered that Northfields station was closed, said: “It’s ridiculous. We’re trying to recover financially from a pandemic and now this. It’s not okay. “
Miles Chapman, 22, who works with a publishing house in central London, was greeted with a locked gate at Bounds Green.
He said: “I have enjoyed going back to the office after the pandemic and this strike is preventing people from going in, it is very frustrating.”
Leanne Smallman, 30, a retailer, said: “I’m really mad. Now I have to get on a bus and get half an hour late. I think it’s awful that the pipe workers are preventing the public from starting their business because of small complaints. “
Simon Thomas, CEO of the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, said: “Hear the Herald Angels sing, the tube is on strike, the usual.
“Given what the West End has been through over the last 18 months, this is a cynical gesture to cut off Christmas cheer for Londoners and business.”
Des Gunewardena, CEO of the D&D London restaurant group, said many diners canceled reservations.
He said: “It is deeply insensitive of both the unions and the TfL to expose the public to this strike … especially on what will be a very busy Friday in the West End.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Our members have spoken this morning and it is time for the London Underground to start listening.
“This is only the beginning of an action program, and the mayor and his officials need to recognize our willingness to defend progressive and family-friendly practices. We remain available for talks.”