Londoners prepared for two days of travel chaos as last-minute talks to avert a strike ended without an agreement.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union called the 48-hour strike, which starts today at 9 p.m., to protest against possible job cuts and ticket-office closures. Talks between union leaders and London Underground, which says the changes are needed to modernize the world’s oldest subway, ended without a deal after about two hours today.

Prime Minister David Cameron called the planned strike “unjustified and unacceptable” last week and London Underground has said no job losses will be compulsory. The RMT union’s veteran leader Bob Crow, who described himself as a “communist stroke socialist” and boasted of winning raises for his members even as the government implemented austerity, died last month, leaving the group with an interim leader.

Transport for London, which runs the Tube, said limited services will run on all lines except the Waterloo & City, which will be closed. The Northern Line, the busiest, will have services every five minutes, although trains won’t stop at 18 stations. Central and Piccadilly line trains, which cross the capital on an east-west axis, won’t stop in central London.

Financial District

Trains on the Jubilee Line will run every seven minutes between Wembley Park and Stratford, serving the financial district of Canary Wharf. Other services such as the Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, trams and rail services will be operating as normal, as will buses and river bus services, TfL said in a statement on April 24.

Workers for the Heathrow Express, which connects Heathrow Airport with the city, are also on strike from tomorrow until May 1, and the Fire Brigades Union plans a series of strikes from May 2 over pensions.

A second Tube walkout, lasting three days, is planned for next week and TfL urged union leaders today to continue talks this week. The subway carries more than 1 billion passengers per year, according to TfL, and each day more than 3 million journeys are made on the network. As part of the modernization plan, London Underground plans to keep the network open through the night at weekends from next year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angelina Rascouet in London at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Heather Harris at Emma Ross-Thomas, Christopher Jasper.

Tags: labor, london
Photo Credit: An empty platform at the Lancaster Gate tube station. John Parfrey / Flickr