London: A 24-hour strike by subway drivers virtually halted London's underground services, causing inconvenience for travellers at the start of the much-awaited post-Christmas sales.
   
Trains throughout the UK were operating a significantly reduced service, with only five rail companies out of 25 running a "limited" Boxing Day service, a public holiday in Britain.
   
Services on the Circle, Central, Hammersmith and City lines were suspended due to the strike.
   
Members of the train drivers' union ASLEF have decided to hold the strike on Boxing Day, and on three more dates in the coming weeks.
   
They are staging the strike over the union's demand for extra pay for its members working on the public holiday.
   
Opposition Labour has accused the coalition government of "hypocrisy" for failing to ensure a rail service as overground lines remained shut in most of the country and tube drivers in
London went on strike.
   
Labour transport spokesman John Woodcock said that ministers had done "nothing" in office to encourage operators to run a Boxing Day service.
   
"This is total hypocrisy from the Tories. Year after year in opposition the Tories attacked the Boxing Day rail shutdown," Woodcock said:
   
"But in government they have done nothing to encourage rail operators to run a Boxing Day service, and this Boxing Day most trains are not running.”
   
"Transport secretary Justine Greening should tell us what she plans to do to ensure that Boxing Day services do run in future, or else admit that her party was simply chasing headlines in opposition by raising this issue, and had no real intention of doing anything about it."
   
Meanwhile, ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said the demands for extra pay and voluntary working on Boxing Day were "negotiable".
   
He said in a radio programme: "My team that has been in there for the best part of two years has offered various solutions that would underwrite or part underwrite what we are seeking to achieve.”
   
"There's various transfer and training agreements within the company that if we changed them would subsidise what we are seeking to achieve," he said.

(Agencies)