London

Tube strike: The 'organised chaos' of commuting during a strike

  • 9 January 2017
  • From the section London
Commuter outside Victoria underground station

Victoria Station, Westminster, in the midst of a Tube strike is a picture of organised chaos.

Long queues blocked bus lanes as they snaked through streets and across roads, requiring traffic police to organise the crowds.

But Londoners appeared silently resigned to commutes that were taking up to an hour longer than usual.

They told BBC News their views.


'Absolute hell'

Luke Edwards, a student from Sutton, said the constant strikes on London transport were making his life "absolute hell".

Tube strikes added up to an hour to his journey, he said.

"I've almost missed quite a few exams because of all this industrial action going on. And it's quite irritating to say the least," he said.

"If there are problems obviously strikes are needed. But the fact it happens so many times makes getting into university hell. It's affecting my education."


Added stress

Today's Tube strike added to an already stressful time in Maskela Adams' life.

"I'm on probation at work and I'm trying to be on time but it looks like I'm going to be late," she said.

Added to that, she's pregnant.

"It's been very stressful being pregnant on public transport recently. I fainted twice in the last week due to packed trains.

"But it is what it is."


'Longest queue I've ever been in'

Sri Kannan, from Sutton, said the patchwork of strikes by Southern Rail and London Underground staff regularly "screws up" his daily schedule.

"I can understand where they're [striking workers] coming from, but I think they should not try and affect the commuters," he said.

Mr Kannan said he is dealing with Tube strikes today, but tomorrow and the rest of the week will be affected by strikes on Southern Rail.

"I've gotten used to the delays now, but this is probably the longest queue I've been in. Ever."


'Probably necessary'

Mike, from West Ham, came back from a holiday in India "slap bang into the middle of a strike" he knew nothing about.

Despite the surprise of a three hour journey home, he said the strike was "probably necessary to a certain extent"

"What they're striking about I don't know, but let's hope it gets sorted out sharpish."


'Increasingly political'

Vanessa Norwood regularly travels to London from Shoreham-by-Sea, via Brighton, so is used to two hour commutes.

But she said she was worried strikes were "becoming increasingly political".

"It's becoming a stand-off between unions and government and we're suffering," she said.


'Queues snake out of stations'

Image copyright Sam Francis

By Sam Francis, BBC News Online

As I cycled though the streets of central London I slowly realised I'd become the member of a gang.

Wordlessly a group of commuters had formed a pack around me, hunting for a free docking station in the streets around Piccadilly.

I often cycle to work using London's cycle hire scheme, to speed up my commute. But the Tube strike had forced commuters to try new ways of getting into work.

On my extended cycle I saw queues snake out of train stations and plenty of overcrowded bus stops.

But during my Tube strike commute I found that even in the midst of a crisis, Londoners have not lost their ability to find humour in miserable moments.

Having passed a dozen stations without a space my bike gang finally found the target.

About 400 bikes were crammed into a station designed for 50, but Transport for London laid on extra staff to remove bikes as fast as they were coming in.

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