News24

Travel chaos: Mayor says sorry

2009-06-11 12:59

London - London mayor Boris Johnson apologised to the city's exasperated commuters for a strike on the underground train network on Thursday, as the British capital suffered a second day of travel chaos.

But Johnson, who has traded expletive-ridden insults with the main union behind the Tube strike since it started on Tuesday night, pointed the finger at union leadership.

"I apologise for what has caused, in many cases, misery for commuters," he said, as commuters once again struggled into work by bus, bike, boat and lots of shoe leather.

But Johnson, whose aggressive stance in dealing with the RMT union has been criticised by some of its members, insisted he had no personal dispute with RMT leader Bob Crow.

"There is absolutely no beef (dispute) with Bob, as far as I am concerned. That is not what this is about and I want to reassure people," he added.

Crow said he was "ready and willing" to hold fresh talks on the dispute, which is mainly over pay and job cuts although authorities have blamed the union for blocking progress over disciplinary action against two Tube staff.

The two-day Tube walkout - which started on Tuesday evening and lasts until 19:00 on Thursday - kept 10 of the city's 11 Tube lines either fully or partially suspended on the second day of the strike.

As well as providing more buses, city authorities have also supported a shared taxi initiative at major overground stations, heaving with commuters coming in to central London from outlying districts.

London authorities claim the strike has not been supported by as many Tube workers as the RMT had hoped for, pointing out that many trains are still running - although only on relatively short stretches of the network.

"There has never been a worse-supported strike by RMT workers," said Johnson.

The strike had threatened to prevent fans getting to World Cup qualifying match at Wembley stadium, between big England and Andorra, on Wednesday night. But some 58 000 fans braved the chaos to make it to the game in northwest London.