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Millions face chaos as strike cripples Tube

Millions of commuters in London endured travel chaos on Tuesday as a 72-hour strike by Tube maintenance workers closed most of the network.

As the strike entered its second day, Transport for London (TfL) said the disruption was ”severe and unacceptable”, with trains suspended on all but three of the 12 lines.

Many of the three million passengers who use the network each day were forced to find alternative routes to work, with many packing on to buses.

”We share Londoners’ view that this disruption is intolerable, as it serves no purpose,” a TfL spokesperson said.

About 2 300 staff at collapsed contractor Metronet walked out at 6pm on Monday in a row over jobs and pensions.

Even though the strike is due to end at 6pm on Thursday, the chaos is expected to drag on into Friday.

The RMT rail union said it would hold talks with TfL, Metronet and its administrator later on Tuesday to try to end the walkout.

”We hope that Metronet and its administrator will now take our members’ legitimate concerns seriously,” RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said in a statement.

The RMT says it wants guarantees that the collapse of Metronet will not lead to job losses or pension cuts.

It went under in July after banks denied it access to funds amid a projected overspend of £2-billion.

Metronet is responsible under a 30-year public-private partnership contract for the infrastructure of nine Tube lines.

TfL and Mayor of London Ken Livingstone say they have already given the union guarantees over jobs.

Trains ground to a halt on the following lines: Bakerloo, Central, Circle, District, East London, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Victoria and Waterloo & City. The central part of the Piccadilly line was also suspended.

TfL said there was a good service on the Northern and Jubilee lines, which are maintained by a different company.

The Docklands Light Railway, which links Canary Wharf and east London with the City, is operating normally.

A second 72-hour strike is due to start on September 10. – Reuters

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