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Londoners defy Tube strike to get into work but walkout will cost capital £170m


Londoners defy Tube strike to get into work but walkout will cost capital £170m

But economists warned the walkout on Wednesday – combined with the first of two days of teachers’ strikes – left many workers stuck and home and will deliver a £170m blow to the capital’s economy.

There were extraordinary scenes at Tottenham Court Road station, where thousands of rush-hour passengers were forced to queue in tunnels for Elizabeth line trains.

At London Bridge, huge crowds walked across the bridge from the mainline station into the City. Roads around Brixton and Elephant and Castle were packed with cars, buses and cyclists heading into town.

It was a remarkable contrast to the scenes over Christmas and New Year when national rail strikes left central London like a “ghost town”.

Many Londoners said they were determined to get to work, despite the action by 12,000 members of Aslef and the RMT bringing the Tube to a complete shutdown.

Read all the updates about the disruption here.

Passengers queuing at Tottenham Court Road station

/ PA

IT worker Anton Costa, 28, who grabbed a Santander hire bike at Victoria station after finding the Tube station closed, said: “We just have to get on with it. Everything can’t just grind to a halt – it’s no good for the economy.”

The action, in protest at feared changes to staff pensions and working conditions, was the first Tube strike of the year.

It followed six RMT Tube strikes last year, and took the dispute into a second year – with union chiefs warning that more walkouts were likely, though further dates have yet to be announced.

Aslef’s London organiser Finn Brennan told the Standard: “I do think this is going to be a long dispute. It’s going to take as long as it takes until we can come to a sensible, negotiated settlement.”

Transport for London insists that no proposals to change staff pensions have been tabled. Mr Brennan said TfL was being “disingenuous”.

He said: “Them saying that is rather like the football club that says we have complete faith in the manager before sacking them. It’s not an assurance that anyone takes seriously.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch also vowed to continue the strike action “for as long as it takes”.

He said: “Attacks on pensions, conditions and job losses will not be tolerated and the travelling public needs to understand that understaffed and unstaffed stations are unsafe.”

Commuters said they were “sick and tired” of the strikes. Retail worker Liz McGinty, 33, arrived at Victoria by train from Bromley but faced a long queue for a bus into the West End.

She said: “I’m so and tired of it to be honest. It’s Budget day, everyone is worried about the cost of living and your average worker’s life is just being made more difficult. Not everyone can work from home and it’s damaging the economy.”

Pavel Borowski, 41, a builder, said: “London is getting a very difficult place to work.”

Casey Marsh, 20, a gym worker said: “I’ll have to jump on a bus. My journey is usually an hour door to door at most. Today you can add at least half an hour.”

Simon French, managing director of Panmure Gordon, estimated the strikes would cost the London economy £90m, with each day of the teachers’ strike costing £40m – a total of £170m.

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