London tube strike causes travel chaos for millions of commuters

LONDON Wed Feb 5, 2014 5:03am EST

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LONDON Feb 5(Reuters) - Millions of commuters in London faced travel chaos on Wednesday on the first full day of a 48-hour tube strike by London Underground staff over planned job cuts and the closure of ticket offices.

Staff from the two main unions began the first of two planned 48-hour strikes late Tuesday evening and by rush hour on Wednesday commuters faced long waiting times for over-crowded buses and trains as strong winds battered Britain's capital.

The world's oldest and largest underground rail network, which carries over three million passengers a day, will run very limited services until Thursday evening.

Many people were unable to get into work despite extra buses being put into in service, while others resorted to jogging and cycling to avoid the gridlocked roads. Commuters on packed train platforms posted photos on Twitter of the chaos.

Lauren Sweeney, a legal PA, said it would take an extra 30 minutes on top of her usual one hour journey to get from her home in Hornchurch in east London to her office near Liverpool Street in the city of London.

"It's a hassle. Everyone has been talking about how they are going to get in to work for days," Sweeney, 26, told Reuters.

"It is pain but on this one I can understand why they are striking," she added.

The RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) unions called the strike to protest against London Underground's plans to cut up to 1,000 job and close ticket offices as part of its modernisation of the network.

A second 48-hour strike is planned for next week from Feb. 11 to Feb. 14.

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

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