Tube strike travel trauma expected

COMMUTERS are facing travel chaos after crisis talks aimed at averting a 48-hour Tube strike failed last night. Transport for London bosses were locked in discussions with chiefs from the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, but efforts to break th

COMMUTERS are facing travel chaos after crisis talks aimed at averting a 48-hour Tube strike failed last night.

Transport for London bosses were locked in discussions with chiefs from the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, but efforts to break the deadlock stalled.

Tube workers will down tools at 6.59pm today. Services are expected to wind down before 7pm, bringing the network to a rush-hour standstill.

All lines will be affected by the strike, including Barking and Dagenham's Distict Line stations at Barking, Upney, Becontree, Dagenham Heathway and Dagenham East.

Strikers will stay away for two days, returning to work after 7pm on Thursday.

TfL said services on the London Underground will not return to normal until Friday morning, meaning passengers face five chaotic rush hours.

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Extra buses will be drafted in, and pay as you go tickets will be accepted on national rail services.

Taxi sharing, escorted cycle routes and free Thames River boat shuttles will also be laid on in an attempt to ease the pressure.

Overground, DLR and national rail services - including those running through Barking and Chadwell Heath - will not be affected by the strike, but are expected to be busier than normal.

Union members voted in favour of industrial action over pay deals and the possible loss of 3,000 jobs to "efficieny savings".

London Underground offered staff a four-year pay deal of a 1.5 per cent rise this year, followed by the inflation rate plus 0.5 per cent in subsequent years, or an alternative deal of one per cent now and 0.5 per cent next year.

But the RMT is demanding an inflation-busting 5 per cent rise and a pledge that no compulsory redundancies will be made.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson branded the strike "utterly demented" and added: "My message to the RMT leadership is that they know there is a good offer on the table.

"This strike is a disservice to London and a disservice to the vast majority of hard working staff on the London Underground."

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said he expects the strike to be "solidly supported" and said Mr Johnson should meet with union members directly this morning.

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