London Lights: Strikers cause traffic chaos as EDF gives signal

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Traffic lights in London were back up and running just in time for rush hour

A construction strike turned out to be all the publicity work can give a company after lights and traffic signals began functioning again as the strike ended.

It had taken less than an hour for the electricity to be restored, EDF said.

Supermarkets reported shelves were left bare and customers were still queuing outside more than two hours after the lights came back on.

Rail services across England were disrupted during the industrial action and essential drivers were also called in to help move traffic.

The strike – the second over pay in as many months – was called by the construction trade union Ucatt.

Image copyright PA Image caption Commuters queued outside of London’s busiest station, Waterloo

Commuters in central London left work or faced long delays getting to central stations as the strike took place from 07:00 to 19:30 GMT.

The strike affected hundreds of thousands of people across a large number of roads and footpaths that were closed.

Between 09:30 and 14:00 GMT, traffic lights and the electric power supply to some roadworks in Brighton and Hove ceased to operate.

“Busy and gridlocked”

The strike means that some bus and train routes were delayed or cancelled.

Train stations in London, including Waterloo and Victoria, were also temporarily closed and temporary barriers were put up outside Waterloo to allow traffic through.

The National Rail users’ group, the Passenger Focus organisation, reported that the disruption was causing “tremendous pressure on Network Rail” and also suggested that the electricity supplied to some of the roads was cut off during the strike.

Image copyright PA Image caption Some people used bikes to get around the road closures

The strike caused some disruption to small-scale projects in the area such as tree planting and street renaming work, but many areas were deserted.

It took just over an hour for EDF to restore power to a string of key areas including the Isle of Dogs and Russell Square, and just under two hours for it to come back on for buses in Camberwell, south London.

The strike affected “one-third of the state’s electricity supply,” EDF Energy’s head of transmission said, adding that there had been a power gap for just three minutes, which had been covered by backup power.

The number of lines workers in England and Wales dropped by 1,000 on Wednesday compared with a year ago, according to industry data.

It came as police and council officials in and around London observed a minute’s silence at 10:56 GMT.

Image copyright PA Image caption An engineer surveys the damage to the grid where the electricity was restored

The strike did not specifically affect the Crossrail line from central London to the east of the city, but if it did, it is likely to affect the rest of London.

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