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Train stations deserted as Britons hit by major travel disruption due to rail strikes

Train stations deserted as Britons hit by major travel disruption due to rail and Tube strikes

Some 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Network Rail and 13 train operators are taking industrial action today after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions. 

Millions of Britons are being hit by severe travel disruption, with only a fifth of train services running today due to the biggest national rail strike in 33 years.

Half of lines are closed – affecting large swathes of the UK and most of Scotland and Wales – with limited hours of 7.30am to 6.30pm for those that are open.

Usually busy stations such as London Euston were nearly deserted save for picket lines by union members.

Government accused of ‘actively preventing’ deal with redundancies notice as rail strikes begin – follow live travel updates

Commuter Louis Cartwright-Walls turned up at Cardiff Station, hoping to get a train to Newport for a “vital” work meeting.

But the departure boards are empty.

“I looked online and it said some trains were running, but I knew that wouldn’t be true,

“I rely on the trains – I don’t drive, this is my only transport.

“I’m going to have to pay for an Uber if nothing turns up. That’s going to cost in excess of £40. But they’ll up their prices, I’m sure.”

Passengers at Birmingham New Street station, as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union begin their nationwide strike in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2022.
Image:Birmingham New Street station was mostly empty

At Birmingham New Street station, a few would-be passengers and commuters were trying to work out their travel plans.

After a six-hour flight from Egypt, Carol Hutchinson arrived in the UK to find her direct train from Birmingham International station cancelled.

She made her way to New Street and was waiting to board what appeared to be one of the few trains still running.

“I think it’s going to be standing room only… I’m not even sure I’ll get on with my suitcase,” she said.

The scene at Euston Station in London as the biggest rail strike in 30 years begins
Image:The scene at Euston Station in London

Pupils and parents also said they had to deal with the stress of making alternative plans for getting to school for A-level and GCSE exams today.

Roads in cities and town centres were busier than usual during the morning rush hour, according to National Highways.

Unexpectedly, this was not the case on motorways and major A roads. By 7am they were looking quieter than an average Tuesday commute.

By 8am live cameras showed queues on routes heading from the M61 into Manchester and from spaghetti junction into Birmingham, but many other major routes remained quieter than usual.

“We think that a lot of people have perhaps chosen to work from home,” Frank Bird, senior network planner at National Highways, told Sky News.

Some 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Network Rail and 13 train operators are taking industrial action today after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions.

Network Rail has warned that the strikes – also set for Thursday and Saturday – will cause six days of disruption because of the knock-on effect on services on the days in between.

On days between the strikes, 60% of services will run.

London Underground workers are also on strike today, with most Transport for London services severely disrupted or not running until 8am tomorrow.

Concerns about huge cab fares

Travellers will likely pay more for Uber fares due to surge pricing that is implemented automatically in response to real-time demand when there are not enough available cars.

Some have already reported increases, with Londoner Jamie Murphy tweeting: “Great Uber driver tells me he ‘saved me this morning’. Fair enough pal – but you did charge £30 quid with nearly a 50% surge.”

Addison Lee, a London cab company, was nearly sold out of slots yesterday for its journeys during commuting hours this morning.

National Express said coaches have seen a spike in bookings.

Social media users have also been complaining about huge fees for taxis to airports.

Alexis Rodney wrote on Twitter: “They want £200 for a taxi from Heathrow to London to cover them for the train strike. I will walk like Chaucer and the Pilgrims before I pay that.”

But in areas around train stations taxi drivers said the strikes were bad for business.

As he waited outside Winchester station, a normally busy hub for commuters travelling to London, Gorkhin Gul said: “It will be tough to work today, there are very few customers around.”

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