Feb 05 - As London is brought to a standstill by a strike on the London underground some are arguing for a change in UK law to make mass transit services an emergency service. Hayley Platt reports.
It was a grim day for London's commuters Much of the capital's underground rail network was closed due to strike action. And alternative methods of transport were buckling under the strain. SOUNDBITE: Unidentified London commuter, saying (English): "I've had to go over to Herne Hill and up here and planned to take this route which was advertised as working on line, but apparently not." London Underground is closing ticket offices and cutting 1,000 jobs. They say it's an attempt to modernise and save money. But unions say the cuts go too far. SOUNDBITE: Brian Monroe, RMT Union, saying (English): "The passengers need ticket offices. If you've got a problem with your Oyster card , you don't go to the newsagent they can't help, you go to the ticket office and get these things resolved. What about visitors to London. This is a critical service for Londoners and visitors to London and that's why we're taking strike action." The tube is the world's oldest and largest underground rail network. Three million passengers rely on it every day. The Prime Minister called the strike "shameful". And business leaders estimate it will cost the capital around £200 million. London's Mayor Boris Johnson wants a change in the law. Some cities regard their transit operators as essential services. He objects to the fact that only 30% of the union's members actually voted. SOUNDBITE: Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, saying, (English): "The thing should be called off immediately. We've already got a solution in hand, in the sense that there are loads of people who are actually applying for voluntary redundancy there are no compulsory redundancies so let's knock this on the head and let every get back to work." No sign of that yet though - neither side is budging. And another 48-hour strike is planned for next week.