Militant unions were branded ‘selfish’ today as they kickstarted the biggest rail strike in decades during one of the busiest sporting weekends of the year, with 50,000 train workers walking out across the country.
Members from the Aslef, RMT and TSSA unions are striking for 24 hours in a dispute over pay and working conditions, leaving just 11 per cent of services operating.
The disruption will severely affect the 50,000 people who are expected to travel to the London Marathon on Sunday, with runners now being allowed to sign in a day earlier than usual in a bid to avoid delays.
One Twitter user branded the walk outs as ‘selfish’ for impacting the marathon, as another added: ‘It is a really important fund raising event for many charities, it would be a shame if they suffered because of the strike.’
Another said: ‘I believe today’s railway strike, impacting one of the biggest, if not the biggest, charity fundraising events in the year with the London Marathon is bad timing and will backfire on the unions.’
The travel chaos will also hit football fans as the Premier League returns on Saturday, with seven fixtures expecting to see more than 200,000 spectators flock to stadiums across the country.
The matches include Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea v Crystal Palace, Fulham v Newcastle United, Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton v Everton.
Meanwhile, scores of horse racing fans will struggle to travel to a series of fixtures today, including at Ascot, Wolverhampton, Redcar and Fontwell.
Rugby fans will also have their work cut out for them trying to make it to a series of matches today, including London Irish v Bath and Saracens v Leicester Tigers.
It is the first time in history that the major rail unions have joined forces to organise walk outs simultaneously.
Members from the militant Aslef, RMT and TSSA unions are striking for 24 hours, leaving just 11 per cent of services operating on what is one of the busiest sporting weekends of the year
Members of the Aslef, RMT and TSSA unions are all involved in the walkout today, which leaves just one in ten services running
Dozens gathered on the picket lines outside train stations across the UK this morning, such as this one outside Euston Station, London
Empty stations and signs warning of severe disruption were seen across the country this morning
It is the first time in history that multiple unions have joined forces to organise walk outs simultaneously (Pictured: Passenger attempting to sleep at Paddington station on first day of three strikes)
RMT union boss Mike Lynch joined striking railway workers in London at the picket line outside Euston station this morning
One striking worker brought their own bacon breakfast and stove to cook it on to the picket line in Reading, Berkshire
Strikes are being led by the RMT union (Pictured: Boss Mick Lynch)
RMT Union boasts of the deserted Euston Station in central London as it begins its strike action on Saturday
Pop star Machine Gun Kelly and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli might also be left with quite a few empty seats at their concerts in the capital on Saturday.
Delegates heading to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham for the weekend will also be impacted.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch today said it was not his intention to target the London Marathon.
He told BBC news: ‘We haven’t targeted the London Marathon, we’ve more targeted the Tory conference if we’re honest with you, they are the people responsible for this mess.
‘Whenever we put strikes on it’s going to inconvenience people and we don’t want to do that, we would much rather have a settlement, we’d much rather get out of this dispute.’
Rail workers have planned more walk outs on October 5 and 8 and RMT members will strike in Scotland on October 10.
Aslef boss Mick Whelan warned on Friday that further strikes seem ‘inevitable’ due to a lack of progress in the dispute.
Adding to the chaos are a string of engineering works affecting routes in London, Reading, Oxford, Newcastle, Edinburgh and elsewhere.
Twitter users brand unions ‘selfish’ for organising strikes on the weekend of the London Marathon, while others complained of more than two-hour journeys to get into work and having to miss the Rugby and other sport fixtures
But total travel meltdown was avoided after planned strike action by bus drivers was called off. Members of Unite employed by Arriva in North London secured an improved pay offer of 11%, the union said on Friday.
Anyone planning to travel by rail should make regular checks before they leave home, train operators have advised.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, told the PA News Agency that his members were increasingly angry at the lack of progress in the dispute.
He said: ‘We don’t want to be on strike, but this dispute will continue until the Government lifts the shackles from the train companies.
‘The message I am receiving from my members is that they want more industrial action, so I think more strikes are inevitable.’
The rail strikes tomorrow will be the first time the unions have walked out on the same day, so services will be more significantly disrupted than on previous strike days.
The disruption will severely affect the 50,000 people who are expected to travel to the London Marathon on Sunday (Pictured: London Marathon crossing Tower Bridge last year)
The travel chaos will also hit football fans as the Premier League returns with seven fixtures expecting to draw more than 200,000 spectators from across the country (Pictured: The Emirates Stadium in London, which has a capacity of 60,000 fans)
Trains will start later in the morning and finish earlier in the evening, and there will be no trains at all across large parts of the network.
Unlike previous strike days, this Saturday there will be no trains between London and a number of other major UK cities – including Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle, Brighton and Norwich.
How will Saturday rail strikes affect YOUR train services?
South Western Railway – There will be a severely reduced service between 7.30am and 6.30pm and only on a select number of routes. There will be two trains per hour between London Waterloo and Feltham; two trains per hour between Waterloo and Basingstoke; four trains per hour between Waterloo and Woking; two trains per hour between Waterloo and Southampton Central.
CrossCountry – There will be no services.
East Midlands Railway – There will only be services between 7.30am and 6.30pm – consisting of one train an hour in both directions between Nottingham and London, and Sheffield and London. There will also be just hourly services between Nottingham and other major locations such as Derby and Leicester, while all other routes will be closed.
Great Western Railway – There will be an ‘extremely limited service’ from 7.30am to 6.30pm. Only operating between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington; Reading and Didcot; and Reading and Basingstoke.
Avanti West Coast – There will be no services.
LNER – There will be no service to or from stations north of York, and LNER is warning customers not to travel either to or from stations north of York. There will be a limited service between London Kings Cross and York, and Doncaster and Leeds.
TransPennine Express – There will be a ‘very limited service’ between York and Huddersfield, and Edinburgh and Preston.
Greater Anglia – The operator says services will be severely reduced and disrupted, and there will be no Greater Anglia services between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street or on the regional or branch lines.
c2c – The operator says there will be ‘significant disruption expected on all lines’ and a reduced service between 7.30am and 6.30pm. There will be two trains per hour from London Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness via Laindon, and from London Fenchurch Street to Pitsea via Rainham.
Chiltern Railways – There will be no service on any routes.
Southern, Great Northern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express – Limited services will start later than normal and finish in the late afternoon, while the Gatwick Express services will not run at all.
West Midlands Railway – There will be no services on any routes.
Southeastern – There will be no services running.
Northern – There will be no services running.
Those passengers who must travel – including those looking to participate in or watch the London Marathon – are advised to plan ahead and check when their last train will depart.
Passengers are also advised that there is likely to be some disruption in the early morning of Sunday October 2 as workers return to duties.
Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: ‘Despite our best efforts to compromise and find a breakthrough in talks, rail unions remain intent on continuing and coordinating their strike action.
‘This serves only to ensure our staff forgo even more of their pay unnecessarily, as well as causing even more disruption for our passengers and further damaging the railway’s recovery from the pandemic.
‘Passengers who want to travel this Saturday, and indeed next Wednesday and next Saturday, are asked only to do so if absolutely necessary. Those who must travel should expect disruption and make sure they check when their last train will depart.’
Daniel Mann, director of industry operations at Rail Delivery Group, said: ‘These strikes are unnecessary and damaging. They disrupt passengers’ plans, undermine struggling businesses, hit major events and harm the industry’s recovery.
‘It is particularly disheartening that this weekend’s strike will hit the plans of thousands of runners who have trained for months to take part in the iconic London Marathon.
‘That will also punish the many charities, large and small, who depend on sponsorship money raised by such events to support the most vulnerable in our community.
‘While we have done all we can to keep some services running, passengers should only travel by rail if absolutely necessary.
‘Passengers with advance, off-peak or anytime tickets affected by the strikes on 1 October can use their ticket on the day before the booked date, or up to and including 4 October. Passengers can also change their tickets to travel on an alternate date or get a refund if their train is cancelled or rescheduled.’
Transport for London (TfL) warned its services will be affected by the strikes, with no service expected on London Overground on Saturday and next Wednesday.
Some of London Underground and the Elizabeth line will also be affected on both days.
Essential engineering works mean no Piccadilly line service to Heathrow on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2.
Most of the public transport network will operate as usual, but customers were advised to check before they travel and leave more time for journeys
Trish Ashton, TfL’s director of rail and sponsored services, said: ‘Customers will still be able to travel during these strikes including using the bus network, but we strongly advise them to plan ahead and check before they travel.
‘There is expected to be disruption on some of London’s rail services this weekend and next, with small parts of the Tube also affected.’
While there will be public transport options across London, people were advised that walking or cycling may be quicker for some journeys.
Runners and spectators trying to get into London in time for the 9.30am start of the London Marathon in Greenwich on Sunday were warned they were likely to be frustrated by the strike.
The disruption is due to members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (pictured: Mick Lynch, RMT general-secretary), Aslef, Unite and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association staging a co-ordinated walkout
Rail passengers are being urged only to travel if necessary on Saturday, October 1, because of a strike by workers – which will close 89 per cent of the network
Trains travelling any reasonable distance into central London will not arrive much before 9am.
On Sunday, as services will start much later, only those travelling a short distance to the London Marathon will reach the 9.30am start line on time.