Blue Monday, traditionally the gloomiest day of the year, came a week early when transport strikes made life misery for millions of London’s commuters.
Tube stations across the capital, particularly in Zone One, were closed by a 24-hour walk-out by unions over jobs and ticket office closures.
The knock-on meant those transport services still running were jammed, including the roads, while across the capital appointments, launches, events and meetings were cancelled. Many more decided to stay at home.
Transport for London (TfL) advised passengers there will be a severely reduced service across the Tube network all day on Monday. With not Tube interchange services from key National Rail service stations, congestion built at places such as London Bridge, Victoria, Waterloo and Paddington.
There is a good service on the DLR and Thames Clippers are running enhanced services during peak hours .
Although the strike will end this evening, misery will continue for many commuters with more strikes on Southern Rail tomorrow (Tuesday).
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) walked out at 6pm on Sunday and mounted picket lines on Monday morning.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan called on the unions to return to the negotiating table but attempts at the weekend to bring the sides together right up until the last minute failed.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The strike action is being solidly supported on every line, at every station and on picket lines right across the Tube network.
“This action has been forced on us by savage cuts to jobs that have reduced London Underground to an under-staffed death trap at a time of heightened security and safety alert.
“The solution is in the hands of the Mayor and his officials. They need to come up with serious and urgent plans designed to address the core issues at the heart of this dispute and a schedule for staffing back up on the stations to a level our reps believe is safe and sustainable. RMT remains available for further talks around that programme of action.”
Steve Griffiths, chief operating officer for London Underground, said: “There is no need to strike. We had always intended to review staffing levels and have had constructive discussions with the unions.
“We agree that we need more staff in our stations and have already started to recruit 200 extra staff and that is likely to increase further as we work through the other areas that need to be addressed.
“Taking into account existing vacancies and natural turnover this means that over 600 staff will be recruited for stations this year. There will also be increased opportunities for promotion.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, said: “Some changes are needed in how our Tube stations are run to ensure they are properly accessible and safe for everyone. In some stations that involves more staff being available to help passengers.
“As a top priority the Mayor must ensure that every recommendation from the recent Travelwatch report examining the impact of ticket office closures is fully implemented.
“However, addressing these issues is no justification for a crippling strike on the London Underground.”