Tube strike: Will any London Underground services run on Wednesday?
Commuters who rely on the Tube in London, as well as national rail services, face big problems getting to work on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 March. But are any trains running? These are the key questions and answers.
What is happening to the Tube on Wednesday?
Members of the train drivers’ union, Aslef, and the RMT working for London Underground are striking on 15 March, the day before the first of the next wave of national rail strikes.
The unions are in dispute with Transport for London (TfL) over changes to working arrangements and pensions.
Aslef says the action “will bring the network in the capital to a standstill”.
TfL says: “Little or no service is expected on the Tube network.”
If some Tube trains do run, is there any clue about where they might be?
Unhelpfully for the vast majority of Londoners and visitors, they tend to be at the extremes of lines in the outer suburbs.
The central area is likely to be shut down. Note that the Thameslink north-south service through the middle of London from Blackfriars to St Pancras International is unaffected – it runs as a Metro service with trains every few minutes.
In addition, the Elizabeth Line – the east-west line from Reading and Heathrow Airport through central London to Essex and southeast London – should run almost normally, though it will be very busy.
TfL warns that Elizabeth Line links between Paddington and east to Abbey Wood and Stratford will start late (after 7.30am) and finish earlier (by 10.30pm).
The London Overground will not run to and from London Liverpool Street early or late; instead London Fields will be the terminus.
Will the Tube network be affected on Thursday 16 March?
Yes. TfL says: “Tube services will be recovering from the strike. Tube services will start later than normal and will be disrupted through the morning.”
Tube trains that do run are likely to be more crowded than usual due to the latest round of national rail strikes involving the RMT, which begins on Thursday and continues on 18 and 30 March plus 1 April.
Because of the national rail strike, TfL says: “Some services may be unable to stop at all stations or run to their normal destination.”
Elizabeth Line services between Paddington and Abbey Wood/Stratford will start later than normal.
The same pattern is likely to be repeated on Saturday 18 March.
What is the Tube dispute about?
The strike is not about pay but about pensions and working conditions.
Finn Brennan, Aslef’s Organiser on the Underground, said: “This is not a strike about pay or for more time off. It is about making sure that change and ‘modernisation’ comes about by agreement.
“Central government has used the effects of the pandemic to insist that TfL targets staff pensions and working conditions.
“They have no problem bailing out the banks or handing our billions of pounds in dubious contracts to their chums but they refuse to properly fund vital services like public transport in this country.”
He said that Tube drivers voted by 99 per cent in favour of the action on a turnout of 78 per cent.
Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the RMT, said: “Our members will never accept job losses, attacks on their pensions or changes to working conditions in order to pay for a funding cut which is the government’s political decision.
“Tube workers provide an essential service to the capital, making sure the city can keep moving and work long hours in demanding roles.
“In return they deserve decent pensions, job security and good working conditions and RMT will fight and tooth nail to make sure that’s what they get.”
Nick Dent, TfL’s Director of Customer Operations, said: “We have not proposed changes to anyone’s pensions. We have been working with our trade unions to see how we can make London Underground a fairer and more sustainable place.
“We want to make London Underground a better place to work so we urge Aslef and the RMT to call off this damaging strike and continue working with us.”