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Returning King’s Students Braced for Week of Transport Disruption

Closed Tube station

From Sunday 7 to Friday 12 January 2024, the Transport for London (TfL) network will be running a reduced service due to strike action.

From Monday 8 to Thursday 11 January, “little to no Tube service” is expected across London as Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) members strike. Tube travel will also be disrupted on the preceding Sunday night and following Friday morning. Buses and trams are expected to be running as usual, although the Tube cancellations will likely result in substantial overcrowding and extra traffic in places. TfL have asked that passengers only travel on essential journeys.

Elizabeth line, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and national rail services are expected to continue running, but with reductions in service frequency. The Elizabeth Line will not be stopping at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel in the early morning and late at night during this period.

King’s College London (KCL) have stated that the transport disruption may result in some access campus points being closed, but suggested that there will be appropriate signage to alternative entrances. They also confirmed that there will be no change to Assessment Period 1, scheduled between Friday 5 January and Thursday 11 January, despite many in-person exams being held at the ExCeL Centre in east London. The current advice for students undertaking travelling into London at this time has been to plan an alternative route and to allow extra time for unforeseen circumstances. The university recommend taking the Elizabeth Line, DLR or buses to the ExCeL Centre. However, they have also suggested that ‘mitigating circumstances’ considerations may be appropriate in some cases, provided that students contact their department as soon as possible.

For King’s students returning to London via Heathrow airport, the Heathrow Express train to Paddington is not reporting expected disruption due to the strike, although service frequency will be reduced on Sunday 7 January due to unrelated planned engineering works. The Eurostar is not reporting disruption.

RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, called on TfL and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to engage in conciliation talks, suggesting that a successful resolution would avert the strike action. Neither Mayor Khan nor TfL have yet publicly responded. Last year, Khan celebrated the low Tube strike frequency during his mayorship, although he is not directly responsible for negotiations between TfL and the RMT. TfL’s journey planner will be updated with any changes to the planned strike action.

RMT members voted in favour of strike action in December after receiving a “full and final” pay rise offer of 5% from TfL, something that the union called a “below inflation pay offer… [and a] continual undermining of conditions”. TfL have stated that this was as much as was affordable for the company. TfL have been bailed out by the government six times since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and are accordingly looking to cut £230 million of costs. Late last year, members of Aslef, another union representing TfL employees, voted to accept the deal, although unions TSSA and Unite did not.

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