Transport for London has encouraged people to work from home on Tuesday and Thursday as thousands of tube workers went on strike, crippling the capital’s transport network.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said its members were “solidly supporting” the industrial action with picket lines mounted outside tube stations.
Another 24-hour walkout is planned for Thursday, with knock-on effects on services on Wednesday and Friday.
The union fears spending cuts will lead to hundreds of job losses and reductions in pensions and working conditions.
Transport for London (TfL) has said no jobs would be lost and it has not proposed any changes to pensions or terms and conditions.
TfL’s chief operating officer, Andy Lord, said: “We haven’t proposed any changes to pensions or terms and conditions, and nobody has or will lose their jobs because of the proposals we have set out, so this action is completely unnecessary.
“We know our customers deserve better than this and that is why we’re urging the RMT to talk to us so we can find a resolution to this dispute and call off this action, which is threatening London’s recovery from the pandemic.”
Lord told LBC the disruption on London’s tube network on Tuesday and Thursday was different from the strike action held ahead of Christmas last year.
He said: “The dispute is across the entire network, whereas the previous dispute before Christmas was with the night tube only with the RMT and on certain lines.
“Today it is covering the whole network. We are hoping to run a limited service on some of the lines but I would really encourage customers to check the TfL website and only travel if their journey is essential.”
He encouraged people to work from home on Tuesday and Thursday. Asked about what provisions have been made for key workers who were not able to work from home, Lord added: “We’ve laid on extra buses and we also have all our other TfL services which are operating normally. I hope that they will be able to get to work without too much of an inconvenience.”
Train passengers in the south of England were also hit by disruption unrelated to the tube strike. Network Rail said a suspected power supply failure had led to a “complete loss of signalling” in Ashtead, Surrey.
This was causing delays to services between Epsom and Leatherhead operated by Southern and South Western Railway. Rail replacement buses have been requested.
The disruption came on the day rail fares were increased, causing more misery for passengers.
A spokesperson for the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the strikes would cause disruption to Londoners and businesses trying to recover from two devastating years. “It will also damage TfL’s revenues at a time when TfL is already under huge financial strain due to the pandemic,” they said. “TfL is working to mitigate the impact of the strikes but disruption is inevitable.
“The mayor urges Londoners who need to travel on 1 and 3 March to check before they make their journey, consider whether they are able to work from home and use alternative modes of transport where possible.
“Sadiq doesn’t want to see strike action and is imploring the unions to come to the table and work with City Hall and TfL.”