Cyclists commute along The Embankment
during the strike
Travel chaos as London rail workers launch strike
London, February 5, 2014
Millions of Londoners were hit by travel chaos on Wednesday as underground rail workers launched the first of a series of crippling strikes that have been branded "shameful" by Prime Minister David Cameron.
As tempers frayed on packed buses and the capital's streets swarmed with commuters walking, running and cycling to work through gale-force winds, Mayor Boris Johnson and powerful union leader Bob Crow traded recriminations over the latest walkout.
London's underground rail drivers, who have a long history of calling strikes, plan to stay out for two days this week and another two days next week in a row over job cuts.
Some three million people use the underground "tube" system every day and only the lucky few were able to cram themselves on to the few trains that were running.
Cameron said on his official Twitter feed that the strike was "shameful, bringing misery to millions of Londoners."
Police were out in force at major rail stations like Waterloo to keep order in the long lines that built up at bus stops from shortly after dawn but even so there were reports of jostling as tempers frayed.
Thousands of workers took to the roads on bikes while boat services along the River Thames were running extra services and the more athletic used the strike as an excuse for a training exercise and ran to work from the suburbs.
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. - Reuters