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Bad day on Tube: Londoners struggle through 3rd subway strike in as many months

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LONDON - London subway workers went on strike for the third time in as many months, leaving the capital's residents snarled in a chaotic Wednesday morning commute.

Nearly every line on London's Underground subway network, which carries about 3 million passengers on a typical weekday, was either suspended or disrupted, though officials said 45 per cent of trains were working.

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A quarter of stations were closed, including the one at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 4. Commuters fought their way on to packed buses, biked, or just walked to work.

Many people endured much longer commute times. Cassie Naughton, 18, a fashion student, said her commute normally lasts 20 minutes but took 90 minutes Wednesday — leaving her late for school.

The effects were felt even for those not commuting.

"It's much harder than (last month's strike), the buses are jam packed," said Susan Bushby, 39, as she attempted to manoeuvr her electric wheelchair onto a bus outside the Camden Town station in North London. "But I support the strikers — well, as long as I can get on the bus."

Transportation for London, which operates the London Underground, said that as of 1100 GMT (0700 EST), 45 per cent of Underground trains were working.

"We're watching pictures of trains moving on our screens, and the (unions) are saying there aren't any trains," said Matt Brown, a Transportation for London spokesman. "They're saying it's Armageddon, but it isn't."

Brown also said usage of a bike-sharing program was up 30 per cent on the day.

The 24-hour strike is scheduled to end later Wednesday.

Two major transport unions say they're taking action to protect the jobs of hundreds of ticket staff and station managers and that planned cuts will jeopardize safety. Another subway strike is planned for Nov. 29.

The capital's firefighters also plan to go on strike Friday over a contract dispute.

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