The biggest rail strike in a generation has paralyzed Britain’s rail services, leaving millions facing disruption.
Only a fifth of trains are running on Tuesday and half the lines are closed as nearly 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and 13 train operators walked out on Network Rail.
Services are generally restricted to the main lines, but they are also open only between 7.30 am and 6.30 pm.
Usually busy stations such as London Euston are almost deserted except on the Union Picket lines.
Travel planning website National Rail Inquiry stopped working for about half an hour, but the cause of the problem is not believed to be related to the strike.
London Underground services are also suspended on most lines today due to workers’ walkouts.
Roads are busier than usual with heavy traffic in the city center and the outer London sections of the M1, A4 and A40.
Lines likely to remain open during Rail Strike (PA)
People trying to travel around the capital face long queues for buses.
Uber has raised its prices amid a surge in demand, with a three-mile journey from Paddington to King’s Cross estimated at £27 at 8.45.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast there would be a meeting of the COBRA emergency committee on rail strikes this week.
He said he does not meet with unions, as he described the call to join them at the negotiating table as a “stunt”.
He continued: “I don’t usually meet him because it’s a red herring.
“If I think there is a one in a million chance it will make a little difference, of course I will do so at the drop of a hat.”
There will be no passenger trains for the whole day in most of the UK, including most of Scotland and Wales, the whole of Cornwall and Dorset, and places such as Chester, Hull, Lincoln and Worcester.
Last-ditch talks failed to resolve a bitter dispute over wages, jobs and terms, with all sides blaming each other for the lack of progress.
The strike is also planned on Thursday and Saturday.
At Birmingham New Street station, some potential commuters and commuters were trying to plan their journey, looking at the timetable on their phones and the departure board on the main assembly.
Carol Hutchinson, who is on her way to the Lake District after returning from a six-hour flight from Egypt, landed in the UK to cancel her direct train from Birmingham International Station.
After making her way to New Street, she waited for boarding with her luggage, which appeared to be one of the few trains still running.
“I think it’s only going to be the standing room… I’m not even sure I’ll be carrying my suitcase,” she said.
An empty stage at Wellington station in Shropshire (Nick Potts/PA)
Plant Pathology Masters student Munjabordren Dopple was one of a handful of passengers at Newcastle Central Station.
He said that his research has been hampered by the need to get an earlier train to Manchester Airport, before leaving for Cameroon to attend his father’s memorial ceremony.
“It’s really affecting me,” he told the PA news agency.
“In a lab you have to respect the schedule, and I should have been in the lab now and got the train at 1 pm.
“Because of this I had to give up my research and take the early train.”
Dozens of people joined the first train to London from Maidenhead station in Berkshire, a city popular for travel, at 7.40 a.m.
Striking railway workers picket at Nottingham railway station (Zac Goodwin/PA)
But the other platforms were empty, with only one train running every half an hour to the Rajdhani on the Elizabeth Line route.
Students and parents are being urged to make alternate plans for going to school for A-Level and GCSE examinations.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to say before a cabinet meeting that unions are “harming the people they claim to help”.
He is set to accuse unions of “turning away passengers” that ultimately support the jobs of railroad workers, while also affecting businesses across the country.
He would say: “The very high demands on pay will also make it incredibly difficult to make ends meet the current challenges facing families around the world, along with the rising cost of living.
“Now is the time to make a sensible compromise for the betterment of the British people and railroad workers.”
RMT Secretary-General Mick Lynch warned that the controversy could continue for months: “It is clear that the Tory government, after reducing £4 billion of funding from National Rail and Transport for London, is now actively pursuing this.” The settlement of the dispute has been stopped.”
The Transport Department disputed Mr Lynch’s clam, saying it costs taxpayers around £600 per household to keep the railways running during the coronavirus pandemic.