Tube customers have been urged to check before they travel ahead of the RMT’s planned strike action, which will cause severe disruption on five Tube lines (Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria) all day tomorrow (Saturday 18 December) if it goes ahead. In addition, strike action could cause severe disruption on Central and Victoria line Night Tube services tonight. Transport for London (TfL) will do all it can to provide as many transport options as possible, but Londoners are advised to consider alternative modes of transport and leave more time for journeys.
Tomorrow’s planned strike action is the final day of two full days and six nights of strikes, which have caused disruption to Londoners and the city’s retail and hospitality at a crucial time. TfL has urged the RMT union to put the current dispute aside and cancel this weekend’s strike action, which will reduce the level of service running at a time when coronavirus cases are rising. Calling off the action would mean London Underground services can run as normal to support people travelling to work and those going to get their vaccination boosters.
Customers are also warned that there will be strike action on the Central and Victoria line Night Tube services tonight, the last of RMT’s disruptions focused on directly attacking the reintroduction of the Night Tube service.
The RMT is taking this action over new rosters, which have been agreed by the other recognised union and were introduced for Tube drivers in August. This strike action has been called despite the new rosters including assurances that there will be no job cuts, providing certainty and the option of permanent work for those on part-time contracts and the fact that Tube drivers will only be rostered to work up to four night shift weekends per year – shifts which can be swapped with colleagues for duties at other times of day if that works better for them.
London Underground has repeatedly met with the RMT through conciliation service ACAS to work with the union to address their issue over the last few months and previous strike action was suspended while these constructive discussions continued. Despite the many meetings, the RMT hasn’t presented any workable alternatives to the roster changes and refused a recent offer to jointly review the Night Tube after a trial period. TfL wrote to the RMT last week about the impact that these strikes are having on London, urging them to cancel this unnecessary action at a crucial time for the capital.
If the RMT goes ahead with its unnecessary action tomorrow, which will reduce the level of service TfL can run at a time when coronavirus cases are rising, it would severely disrupt services on the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines on Saturday 18 December from 04:30. It could mean a significantly reduced service on these lines. It is also likely to mean much busier services on the Tube lines that are not affected by the strike (Bakerloo, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan) as customers seek alternative routes. Buses through central London are also expected to be busier than normal.
The West End, Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush are expected to be extremely busy during the strike action. Customers making journeys to and from the West End are advised to use bus services or walk where possible. For journeys to and from Stratford, customers are advised to consider using London Overground, TfL Rail, National Rail, or bus services, and for journeys to and from Shepherd’s Bush, customers are advised to use London Overground, National Rail or bus services.
Customers who need to travel using TfL services are advised to check before they travel, allow more time for their journey and travel at quieter times where possible. Customers in central London are advised to walk, cycle or use a rental e-scooter for all or part of their journeys where possible if the planned action goes ahead. TfL will be adding extra bus capacity to support journeys. Those arriving into London via National Rail stations are encouraged to complete journeys on foot or by using Santander Cycles as buses from London termini will be busier than normal. Services on the morning of Sunday 19 December may also be disrupted, so TfL is advising customers to check before they travel.
The strike affects train drivers only and stations remain fully staffed throughout the action. Plain clothes and uniformed British Transport Police officers are also patrolling the network to ensure staff and customer safety.
Nick Dent, Director of London Underground Customer Operations, said: “I can only express my deep regret that the RMT union has decided to disrupt Londoners and our transport network once again. This needless action comes at a time when we need to be delivering the best service we possibly can so Londoners can safely comply with the Government’s guidance and deal with the new COVID variant.
“The other union has agreed to and is benefitting from our roster changes, and we remain willing to work with RMT to review the changes. In the meantime, despite no job losses, more flexibility, more job certainty and more roster options for drivers, five major Tube lines – the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly & Victoria lines – are set for disruption for one full day tomorrow and overnight services on the Central and Victoria lines could be disrupted tonight. Londoners are therefore urged to check before they travel and consider using other modes as needed.”
In line with new Government regulations on the wearing of face coverings on public transport, all customers travelling on the TfL transport network must wear face coverings for the duration of their journeys or risk being fined, unless they are exempt. TfL’s 500 uniformed enforcement officers and the police are deployed across the transport network ensuring that customers comply with the Government regulations. Anybody who does not comply may be refused entry, directed to leave the network or face a fine.
The RMT has already disrupted the re-introduction of Night Tube services on the Central and Victoria lines on the evening of Saturday 27 November and on weekends throughout December. Night Tube services on these two lines returned in time for the busy Christmas period after being suspended since March 2020 due to the pandemic, providing more options for customers who need to travel at night either for leisure or for work, while also making journey times shorter and offering additional safe routes home.
London’s high-frequency bus services will continue to run throughout the planned strike action on Saturday 18 December although are expected to be busier than normal, as will London Overground, DLR, TfL Rail and London Trams.
Night services on London Overground will be restored on Friday and Saturday nights between Highbury & Islington and New Cross Gate from tonight. No strike action is planned to disrupt Night Overground’s return.
Further information will be available ahead of, and during, the strikes at tfl.gov.uk/tube-strike as well as on the TfL Go app, TfL website and Journey Planner.
Photo credit: TfL