Major railway stations in London were deserted during the usually busy morning rush hour amid the biggest rail strikes in three decades.
Victoria, Waterloo and Euston were almost empty on Tuesday morning with just a tiny fraction of the usual crowds of commuters waiting for a reduced service.
Half of Britain’s rail lines will be closed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday when members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and Unite walk out over pay, jobs and conditions.
The strikes are expected to cause chaos and disruption for millions of people across the country including commuters, tourists and children attending exams.
Talks were held into Monday afternoon but the sides remain deadlocked over a deal. The RMT said the train operators have now made an offer and there is no further offer from Network Rail following one which was rejected last Friday.
General secretary Mick Lynch said: “Faced with such an aggressive agenda of cuts to jobs, conditions, pay and pensions, RMT has no choice but to defend our members industrially to stop this race to the bottom.”
‘This is a fight for everyone,’ says rail worker from Waterloo picket line
Our reporter Maryam Zakir-Hussain has been at Waterloo station in London speaking to railway workers on the picket line.
BJ Awosanya, a railway worker at Waterloo, smiled and greeted commuters as he shared leaflets explaining the strike action.
He told The Independent: “The government needs to come to the negotiating table. The cost of living is through the roof, we can’t afford our bills. The public needs to understand, this is a fight for everyone. This isn’t just about us.
“The government is misleading the public, saying railway workers are earning £44, 000. It’s all lies. If I was earning £44,000 I wouldn’t be here. Drivers may earn that, but it’s not only drivers who run the railway. We run the railway, it’s a collective effort.
“They keep talking about spending money on the railway, but this money is going to shareholders, not us.”
Paddington largely deserted as long queues form at bus stops
Paddington station in London was largely deserted this morning, with just a fraction of the usual crowds of commuters present.
Around 25 passengers waited on the eerily quiet concourse, while intermittent announcements urged people to “only travel by rail if necessary”.
A handful of Network Rail staff were on hand to help travellers and field occasional queries.
Long queues were also seen at a bus stop outside the station.
Queues for buses outside Clapham Junction as commuters attempt to reach work
Queues at bus stops outside Clapham Junction station in southwest London are growing quickly as the rail and Tube strikes hit commuters.
Traffic on the roads around the station has also begun to build up, with congestion bringing cars to a standstill.
Meanwhile, a steady flow of commuters who are travelling on reduced train services are coming in and out of the station.
Less than 20 per cent of trains running
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said it appeared there would be less than a fifth of trains running today.
He told BBC Breakfast: “There are relatively few trains running, I think it’s going to end up less than 20 per cent of trains.”
Masters student ‘abandons research’ to get earlier train for father’s memorial ceremony amid strikes
Plenty of LNER staff were on hand to help the small number of travellers at a largely deserted Newcastle Central station.
One of those passengers was plant pathology Masters student Munjabordrain Dopl, who said he had had to “abandon his research” to get an earlier train to Manchester Airport, before flying to Cameroon to attend his father’s memorial ceremony.
“It’s really affecting me,” he told PA. “In a laboratory you have to respect the schedule, and I was supposed to be in the lab now and getting the train at 1pm.
“Because of this I’ve had to abandon my research and get an early train.”
Grant Shapps says not even ‘one in million’ chance he could have helped stop rail strike
Transport secretary Grant Shapps dismissed the idea of ministers talking the unions over rail strikes – saying there was not even a “one in a million” chance he could have helped prevent disruption.
The minister said there was “nothing we can do” to stop Britain’s biggest rail strike in 30 years, which kicked off on Tuesday morning when tens of thousands of staff walked out in a dispute over pay and jobs.
Our political correspondent Adam Forrest has more details:
Online train journey planner fails as rail strike cripples services
A major online train journey planner has stopped working as services are crippled due to the largest rail strike for a generation.
Passengers attempting to use the National Rail Enquiries website to find out what trains are running are being shown a message stating: “500 Internal Server Error”.
The cause of the problem was unclear but it could be due to a surge in demand.
LB Delay, breakdown and cancellations as rail services resume on the Brighton line
Passengers on the main line from Brighton and Gatwick airport to London, one of a number of routes on which trains are running, faced delays and cancellations before the service properly got under way this morning.
The intention during the strike is to run regular services between the Sussex coast and the capital, via the airport.
The first fast train from Gatwick to the capital, at 7.24am was cancelled because the train crew were unable to get to work.
A slow service left late, and then stopped up the line at Horley in Surrey because of a technical problem with one of the train’s safety systems. It is currently at a halt at Salfords station, around 20 minutes behind schedule.
At least there is plenty of space on board for commuters. Each 12-coach Thameslink train seats 1,700 passengers. They are intended for driver-only operation. Most train drivers belong to the Aslef union, which is not involved in the dispute.
Why are the train strikes happening?
Travel across the UK is set to be disrupted for much of this week as the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union launches the biggest strike to hit the British rail network in 30 years.
Travellers to events such as Glastonbury festival, the English vs New Zealand cricket match in Leeds and major gigs by the Rolling Stones and Elton John are having to re-think rail journeys and look into alternative transport.
Though there are only three official strike days, Network Rail has warned passengers to expect disruption across the whole week, as the knock-on effects of the 24-hour walkouts bleed into the days that follow.
But what is the reason for the disruption, and why are train workers striking?
Strikes are ‘a stunt’ and meeting unions ‘would make matters worse’, says transport secretary Grant Shapps
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has called the rail strikes a “stunt” when asked again why he does not meet with unions.
He told Sky News presenter Kay Burley: “This is a stunt which I’m afraid you’re falling for by the union leaders and the Labour party.
“It wouldn’t resolve anything – in fact it would make matters worse.”
He earlier told BBC Breakfast: “I don’t typically meet with them because it’s a red herring. If I thought there was a one in a million chance it would make a slightest bit of difference of course I would do so at the drop of the hat.
“The reality is they’re using it as a camouflage for the fact they’ve walked out of the talks that they should be in with their employers.
“I don’t meet with them because that’s the job of the employers and the employers do meet with them and this is a stunt by the trade unions.”
Source Link Train strike: Victoria and Waterloo stations deserted as UK grinds to halt