London's Piccadilly Line delays add to rail strike nightmare

Commuters trying to make it into the British capital were affected by the early morning disruption

A sign at Waterloo station in London informing passengers of a strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union. PA
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Commuters and travellers landing at Heathrow Airport and trying to make it to central London on Wednesday were affected by severe delays on a key Tube line, which added to a rail strike already causing chaos.

A signal problem in the Green Park area, near Hyde Park Corner and Buckingham Palace, meant the Piccadilly Line was effectively out of action for several hours.

The line begins at Heathrow Airport in the south-west of London, heads towards Hammersmith and Earl's Court before travelling through the tourist areas of Leicester Square and Covent Garden. It then heads north to Highbury and eventually Cockfosters.

Commuters were quick to take to social media to vent their anger. Many had already taken evasive action to accommodate strikes by the RMT union, which means that overground rail services were not an option.

One wrote on Twitter: “I should have stayed at home. Piccadilly Line is just causing me problems this morning.”

Another complained that Tube trains were packed and being terminated. Others said that the overspill on to other lines had made them unbearably packed.

Another complained that the service on the Piccadilly Line was “useless”.

The morning chaos adds to the suffering of rail passengers on another day of strike disruption.

The new general secretary of the TUC called for an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister in a bid to break deadlocked industrial disputes across the country.

On Wednesday, around half of Britain’s railway lines are closed and only a fifth of services are running as tens of thousands of workers at Network Rail and train operators walk out on the second day of a 48-hour strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).

Train drivers in the Aslef union will strike on Thursday before a second two-day RMT strike begins on Friday.

TUC leader Paul Nowak called for a change in government direction, saying ministers should open pay negotiations with unions.

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In a letter to Rishi Sunak, Mr Nowak said public services were in crisis after years of “underfunding and understaffing”.

“We can’t solve these problems without a fair deal for the people on the front line,” he said.

“Every month experienced employees are quitting, with one in three public service staff now taking steps to leave their professions or actively considering it.

“This is simply unsustainable.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said on Tuesday that strike would need to continue beyond May unless a reasonable offer to resolve the row over pay, jobs and conditions was made to the union.

On Wednesday, the DVSA driving examiners’ strike started in London, the South-East, South Wales and the South-West, while traffic officer service workers at National Highways and Rural Payments Agency staff continued their walkouts.

London bus workers at Abellio began a two-day strike — the first in a series of action planned by the group throughout January.

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Updated: January 04, 2023, 9:28 AM