It’s beginning to feel a lot like lockdown: Biggest strike in 30 years begins


There were few commuters at London Victoria Station this morning (Picture: SWNS)

Travel misery has hit the UK this morning as the biggest rail strike in a generation left train stations empty amid a bitter dispute over pay.

Commuters that braved train trips were greeted by eerily deserted stations reminiscent of the early days of the Covid crisis.

Around 80% of services were cancelled, leaving some stations barred shut and virtually no people inside on the first of three days of strikes this week.

The Prime Minister is set to accuse striking unions of ‘harming the very people they claim to be helping’, as the commuting chaos begins.

Half of lines are closed completely due to the walkout – which will also impact the London Underground.

Strikes are also planned on Thursday and Saturday but the whole week is expected to see disruption, while traffic was already queueing into London early this morning.

Pictures also showed long waits to get on buses in the capital.

There are fears that the strikes could last months and spread to a series of other industries – leading to suggestions that Britain faces a ‘summer of discontent’.


Trains sit in the Laira Depot in Plymouth, Devon. 21st June 2022 See SWNS story SWBRstrikes. Today is the first of three national rail strikes that are likely to cripple the train network all week.
Trains sit in the Laira Depot in Plymouth, Devon (Picture: SWNS)

Passengers at Euston station in London, as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union begin their nationwide strike along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Rail. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
A lonely passenger waits at Euston station in London this morning (Picture: PA)

GV of Kings Cross St. Pancras during the rail strike, london, June 21 2022 See SWNS story SWBRstrikes. Today is the first of three national rail strikes that are likely to cripple the train network all week.
Kings Cross St. Pancras was a virtual ghost station this morning (Picture: SWNS)

Boris Johnson is expected to claim later today that he wants to see a ‘sensible compromise’ – though Labour has accused him of feeding off the division it has caused.

But last-gasp talks yesterday failed to resolve the bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions, with all sides blaming each other for the lack of progress.

Much of Britain will have no passenger trains for the entire day, including most of Scotland and Wales, the whole of Cornwall and Dorset, and places such as Chester, Hull, Lincoln and Worcester.

Services will primarily be restricted to main lines, but even those will only be open between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators are walking out today, Thursday and Saturday.

Those operators not involved in the industrial action will still suffer from disruption due to Network Rail signallers going on strike.


It's beginning to feel a lot like lockdown: Biggest strike in 30 years begins
These lines will remain open on reduced service today for the strikes today. Thursday and Saturday (Picture: Network Rail/Metro.co.uk)

Commuters on busses outside of Victoria Station due to the nation wide rail strike, London, 21st June 2022 See SWNS story SWBRstrikes. Today is the first of three national rail strikes that are likely to cripple the train network all week.
Buses are set to be more crowded than normal this morning (Picture: SWNS)

?? Licensed to London News Pictures. 21/06/2022. London, UK. Traffic queues on the A102M Blackwall Tunnel approach in Greenwich in South East London. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union on Network Rail and 13 train operators are striking today along with RMT and Unite members on the London Underground. The strikes are expected to cause severe disruption to the rail network across the country. Photo credit: George Cracknell Wright/LNP
Traffic was already queueing into south east London earlier this morning (Picture: LNP)

Workers on the Tube will also walk out on Tuesday.

But the strikes are set to have a major knock on effect on commuters throughout the week.

Pupils and parents are being urged to make an alternative plan for getting to school for A-level and GCSE exams on Tuesday and Thursday.

Motorists are warned to expect a surge in traffic as train passengers switch to road transport.

The AA predicted that the worst affected roads are likely to be main motorway arteries, as well as rural and suburban areas.

The health service has also warned that it will be badly impacted.


Trains parked up at Bristol Temple Meads train station. The station opened at 7am today due to the rail strikes, it normally opens at 4.30am. 21 June 2022. See SWNS story SWBRstrikes. Today is the first of three national rail strikes that are likely to cripple the train network all week.
Around 80% of trains are cancelled today (Picture: SWNS)

Travel Strike Travel chaos East Dulwich
Disruption is expected throughout the week

Passengers wait for the doors to open at 7AM 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. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Rail. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire
Passengers wait for the doors to open at 7am at Birmingham New Street station (Picture: PA)

About half of trains carrying revellers to the Glastonbury Festival between Wednesday and Friday, are cancelled.

The PM is expected to say ahead of a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that unions are ‘driving away commuters who ultimately support the jobs of rail workers’, while also hitting businesses across the country.

He will say: ‘Too high demands on pay will also make it incredibly difficult to bring to an end the current challenges facing families around the world with rising costs of living.

‘Now is the time to come to a sensible compromise for the good of the British people and the rail workforce.’

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said Network Rail had offered a 2% pay rise with the possibility of a further 1% later dependent on efficiency savings.

But he told BBC’s Newsnight that Network Rail had ‘escalated’ the dispute during Monday’s talks, saying: ‘They have issued me a letter saying that there are going to be redundancies starting from July 1.


? Licensed to London News Pictures. 21/06/2022. London, UK. Station staff speak to a member of the public locked out of Victoria Station on the first day of national rail strikes. Rail lines across Britain will be closed for three days when thousands of rail workers walk out on 21, 23 and 25 June over a pay dispute. Photo credit: Ben Cawthra/LNP
One traveller appeared to have been caught out this morning (Picture: LNP)

Victoria underground station closed due to the nation wide rail strike, London, 21st June 2022 See SWNS story SWBRstrikes. Today is the first of three national rail strikes that are likely to cripple the train network all week.
A sign told commuters that Victoria underground station was closed completely this morning (Picture: SWNS)

‘So rather than trying to come to an agreement in this dispute, they’ve escalated it by giving us formal notice of redundancy amongst our Network Rail members.’

He warned the dispute could continue for months, adding: ‘It is clear that the Tory Government, after slashing £4bn of funding from National Rail and Transport for London, has now actively prevented a settlement to this dispute.

‘The rail companies have now proposed pay rates that are massively under the relevant rates of inflation, coming on top of the pay freezes of the past few years.

‘At the behest of the Government, companies are also seeking to implement thousands of job cuts and have failed to give any guarantee against compulsory redundancies.’

The Department for Transport disputed Mr Lynch’s clams, adding that it has cost taxpayers about £600 per household to keep the railway running during the coronavirus pandemic.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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