Anyone else getting that sense of déjà vu? Just weeks after the last strike, the unions are shutting down the London Underground again. But why? And how are you going to get to work? Read on to find out.
What? Another Tube strike? Again?! Why is this happening?
Like last time the strike is in relation to the continued negotiations between Transport for London and the trade unions over the Night Tube, which transport officials hope to have up and running in September. The new plans will see four Tube lines: The Piccadilly, Victoria, Jubilee and Northern Line run all night on Friday and Saturday night, which is great news for Londoners who want to get around in the early hours, but arguably less great for the people who work on the Tube network.
Negotiations between the four largest Tube unions - Unite, the TSSA, RMT and ASLEF - are on going, but there are a number of sticking points over pay and conditions for people who have to now work overnight. According to the BBC the latest offer from management includes a 2% salary increase, with an extra £200 per nightshift for drivers in addition to a £500 bonus for staff when the Night Tube starts. The problem for the unions is over conditions, with one complaint being that shifts that the amount of time between the end of a night shift and the expectation that employees clock back on the next morning isn't long enough for them to recover (with all of the work/life balance and conceivably safety challenges that presents).
So to show they mean business, a strike has once again been called.
So when is the tube going to be screwed up?
The strike officially begins at 18:30 this evening (5th Aug), and officially ends at 18:30 tomorrow (6th Aug). But this isn't the full story. The Tube is expected to be especially busy in the hours before the strike today as Londoners will want to get home whilst they still can - so don't be surprised if from around 4pm stations begin to close because of overcrowding, and if you do manage to get on a train, don't be surprised if it isn't a very pleasant ride.
The other thing to note is that despite the official end of the strike being tomorrow at 18:30, the expectation is that there will be no trains running for all of tomorrow. So even if you can get to work tomorrow, you still won't be able to get a tube home.
Could it still be called off?
It could conceivably be called off, perhaps if Jesus himself descends from the clouds and offers to arbitrate, but we wouldn't bet on it. Perhaps the two sides are still talking (though we can't find any indications which suggest this), but you should probably assume the tube is going to be screwed.
How am I supposed to get around?
The good news is that the rest of London's transport infrastructure should still be running - but will likely be exceptionally busy as the people turfed out of tube stations make alternative arrangements.
The London Overground and DLR are going to be fine, as they are technically separate from the Tube and are not part of the dispute. The only disruption is expected to be at stations which interchange with Tube stations, where TfL says there could be some "disruption".
National Rail is also expected to be fine, though will once again be busier on suburban routes. TfL has also announced that it will be laying on an extra 250 buses to help people get around - though in a city of 6000 buses, this is really a drop in the ocean. But could be fun if you fancy a trip on an old-fashioned Routemaster that has been brought out of retirement for one last mission.
You could also use the strike as an excuse to finally try out the riverboat services for the first time... though don't expect to be the only person who has thought of this genius plan. (And be warned, boats are not part of your Oyster travelcard).
By far the most reliable method of travelling around over the next couple of days is going to be walking. And a lot of London is closer together than you think - so why not go for a stroll? The only annoying thing is that according the BBC, rain is forecast today from about 3pm and lasting all evening - so take an umbrella.
Ultimately, perhaps the best thing to do is to work from home.
Why is it always London strikes that make the news? If this happened in the north the media wouldn't mention it...
Oh be quiet. Given that more people use the Tube every day than use a train on the national rail network, and given that a disproportionate number of Londoners rely on public transport compared to the rest of the country (just 37 per cent of journeys in the capital are by car), the Tube is rather important to us.