7:00 AM Status of the London Underground on Tuesday 7th September.

Well folks, “industrial action” is upon us here in London – a “strike by…union members is affecting Tube services.”  Yeah, I’d say so!

I’ll tell you how to read this; basically, the only line operating as normal is the Northern Line, which is in fact the line with the most total ridership, so that’s something good.  The two at the bottom – DLR and Overground – are not technically part of the “Tube” and so are not affected by the strike. 

Why is this happening?  Of course, these things are usually fairly complicated – and one would hope so, given the impact something like this has – but, basically, London Underground is planning to eliminate 800 jobs staffing ticket windows, and the union is quite unhappy about it, claiming that it will compromise security for passengers.  However, London Underground has pledged that all stations would still have some staff (such as those patrolling the ticket barriers, even if the ticket windows themselves are unstaffed) and that there would  be no compulsory redundancies (British for layoffs). 

My two pence?  In a time of intense budgetary pressures, this is a necessary measure, and one that is well-designed to have limited impact.  In fact, the number of ticket-window transactions has been declining (just like “token” booth ones in NYC) due to the availability of ticket machines and online payments for the Oyster smartcard.  Certainly, it is much much better to do things like this than to have to, say, reduce service.  I’m sorry for those losing their jobs, but apparently they will be reassigned (or the positions will just be cut through attrition), so there seems to be nothing to complain about.  I’ll also say that, if a few did have to be layed off, that is certainly sad but not the end of the world – just ask their very many private-sector counterparts who have faced similar fates. 

In a weird way, this situation is a gold mine for me, because I’m working on a case study about how metros (US English: subway systems!) inform customers during service disruptions, so I’ll be out observing and grabbing as many good photos as possible.  Good luck to anyone trying to get around – Astrid and I are going to make our way to the Northern Line, which is only a 10-minute bus ride from our flat, to get her to Liverpool Street for the train to her office (buses and trains – meaning suburban and intercity trains – are not affected by the strike).


Posted on 07/09/2010, in Silly British Things, Transit, travel, Within London and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Good luck with all that. I think I heard on the news this morning that there’s a transportation strike in Paris,too. I say think, because I was brushing my teeth and didn’t have the tele volume turned up to compensate.

    • Yep, funny that that makes US news though, as it is nothing new – the French are quite fond of striking. The SNCF (French Railways) people even went on strike during the ash cloud when thousands were turning to trains as an alternative – way to attract customers!

      Looking at the Paris Metro status today, a couple of lines are operating at 75%, most at 50%, and some at 33%. The only exception is Line 14, which is their super-slick, new-build line which opened starting in 1998, which was operating as normal. Why? Because it is fully automated, so striking drivers don’t matter “attall.” They are currently converting Line 1, the oldest and busiest, to be fully automated in large part to make it strike-proof!

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