Tube strike threatens London's New Year party


Hundreds of thousands of London New Year's Eve revellers faced transport chaos today as underground rail station staff prepared to strike on one of the busiest nights of the year.

The 24-hour strike, beginning at midday, will undermine a planned free underground service which had been due to run from 11.45 p.m.

Transport officials said they hoped to be able to provide some service on all underground lines but advised passengers to plan alternative routes home.

The RMT union is striking over the introduction of new work rosters which they say will reduce safety levels on the Tube.

Operator London Underground and Mayor Ken Livingstone have condemned the strike, saying it will ruin the night for revellers.

Official New Year celebrations in London include a midnight fireworks display at the London Eye wheel on the south bank of the River Thames.

The strike will also affect a New Year's Day parade which starts at Parliament Square at midday on Sunday and features 10,000 performers from around the world.

Parade publicist Dan Kirkby told BBC radio the strike threatened to ruin two years' of preparations.

"London deserves better than this," he said. "We are urging people to take a little time and effort, come on overground trains and drive and walk."

A second underground strike has been set for January 8-9th.