Bank Tube station, 13 July 1998
Protesters Block Tube Train
At 7:30am environmental activists climbed onto the roof of a tube train at Bank Station and shut down the eastbound Central Line. The action was in support of the tubeworkers' stand against privatisation. The protesters unfolded a carriage-length banner reading, "Private Profit at Public Expense", while others dressed as "fat cats" are offering to buy Bank station and are handing out peanuts and explanatory leaflets to passengers. Underground signs have also been subverted to read "Laughing all the way to the Bank", a direct reference to the obscene corporate profits which will follow privatisation.
More supporters holding a huge "Stop Privatisation - Support the Tubeworkers" banner picketed the station entrance.
The activists from direct action groups Reclaim the Streets (RTS) are, like the strikers, fighting the privatisation plans for London Underground. They say that selling off the network, far from improving the service as the government claim, will bring only deteriorating conditions and higher prices for London's travellers while increasing car congestion and pollution on the streets. More fundamentally they argue that this public resource should not become yet another opportunity for corporate gain.
RTS have a history of supporting transport workers. During the 1996 tube strike activists organised a simultaneous Critical Mass bike blockade, while others occupied the office of the then London Underground Manager Peter Ford.
One of the campaigners said:
26 August 1998 The three women arrested on top of the train have had their charges reduced. They were arrested under a section of a Railways Act of 1861 - which was passed partly to discourage the likes of William Wordsworth taking direct action against the invasion of the Lake District by railways. Those charges carried a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The new charges do not.