In Brief

Tube commuters face more delays as engineers begin industrial action

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Tube strike: how to survive the London Underground walkout

6 August

London commuters are facing long queues and delays after strike action brought the entire Tube network to a halt yesterday evening.

The walkout began at 6.30pm yesterday and will continue for the rest of the day. Services are expected to return to normal on Friday morning.

It is part of a long-running dispute between unions and London Underground over pay and working conditions on the new Night Tube service due to begin next month.

London Mayor Boris Johnson criticised the unions for "holding a gun to Londoners' heads" and urged them to "call off this stupid strike," the BBC reports.

But unions argue that Johnson's "ill-conceived vanity project" will have a negative effect on employees work/life balance and customers will be paying in terms of safety, reliability and quality.

"Our dispute is not with the travelling public, it is with those who have botched the introduction of Night Tube and who are trying to plug staffing gaps by wrecking any chance of a decent work/life balance for our members," says RMT General Secretary Mick Cash. "It really is as simple as that."

From bikes to cable cars, the city-wide disruption has forced Londoners to find alternative methods of travel. Below are some tips for surviving the latest strike:

Take a train

The entire Underground network is expected to grind to a halt, but London Overground, DLR, TfL Rail and trams are all expected to operate a normal service, although long queues are expected. National Rail services will also be running, with the exception of Chiltern Railways.

Walk

London may be smaller than you think. Download Google Maps to your phone and navigate your own way to work. The NHS says that taking a stroll is an underrated form of exercise. A 60kg person walking at 3mph will burn 99 calories in 30 minutes. A new map has also been released by the healthcare website Treated.com, to help commuters visualise how many calories they would burn by walking home along the route they usually travel by Tube. So when you get to work you can reward yourself with a piece of cake. A very small piece of cake.

Get the bus

"A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure." The quote, sometimes attributed to Margaret Thatcher, is likely to be apocryphal, but if she did say it she obviously never experienced a Tube strike.

If walking isn't an option, jumping on a bus may be your best bet. TfL is putting on 250 extra buses, but space might be at a premium and buses are likely to crawl along at a snail's pace in the congestion.

To aid your journey, download the free London Bus Live Countdown app, which will tell you how long you have to wait until the next two buses come at once, and follow @TfLBusAlerts on Twitter for updates.

Get the coach:

Some coach routes run right across the capital and so might be useful to commuters, particularly services from Victoria Coach Station to Golders Green, Brent Cross, Hillingdon, Hammersmith and Sutton. Check the National Express website for more details. However, note that printed Tube tickets will not be valid on these services and tickets must be bought separately.

Ride a bike

So-called Boris bikes can be hired throughout central London with Santander Cycles, but if you want to get on two wheels, you may need to get in early – during previous Tube strikes the scheme was incredibly popular. TfL is adding bikes to its existing cycle hubs in Waterloo, Stonecutter Street and Belgrove Street, as well as putting on extra hubs at peak times in Soho Square, Houghton Street, Finsbury Square and Butler Place. Find a docking station here.

If you are a not a regular cyclist then heed these words of wisdom from Stu Bowers, deputy editor of Cyclist magazine:

  • Awareness, awareness, awareness. It's the best piece of advice we can offer any cyclist. Experienced cyclists develop a sixth sense for predicting what could happen. That car is about to pull out in front of me; that pedestrian is about to step off the kerb into my path etc. Be aware of what or who is behind you as well as in front.
  • Ride like you'd drive a car. Be assertive but within the rules of the road. Take as much room as you need and be confident. Indecision/hesitancy/nervous riding can cause accidents.
  • Don't go through red lights.
  • Don't go along the inside of large vehicles (buses, lorries etc) as if they suddenly turn left they will squash you. They may not have indicated their intention to make this turn to you.
  • Don't forget even a Boris bike has gears – they are there to make your life easier – so get a feel for how to use them, and you will find riding one much more pleasurable.
  • Consider wearing a helmet. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Plan a route before you go.
Navigate the Thames

Extra river services will be operating between Central London and Canary Wharf, and Central London and Putney. Find your closest pier here. To cross the river, you may also be able to use the Emirates Air Line. The cable car, which runs from Greenwich to the Royal Docks, accepts Oyster cards and Travelcards.

Take a taxi

The streets are likely to be snarled with traffic, but if you have no other option, marshalled taxi services operate at Euston, Waterloo, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, King's Cross, Victoria, Charing Cross and Marylebone stations. You might also want to try the Hailo app to bring a black cab to you.

Will my Tube ticket be valid on other routes?

According to TFL:

  • Printed single Tube tickets will be accepted on bus and tram services on reasonable alternative routes. Printed Tube tickets will not be valid on National Rail services
  • Travelcards will be accepted within the zones purchased as usual
  • National Rail tickets valid for cross-London travel will be accepted on buses on reasonable alternative routes
  • Travelcards will be accepted on the Emirates Air Line
  • Day Travelcards bought in advance for travel on Wednesday 5 or Thursday 6 August can be returned before the day of travel for a full refund
  • Pay as you go fares (on Oyster or contactless cards) will be charged for the services used and will not be refunded

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