Rail passengers are set for another day of travel chaos on Wednesday (27 July) as thousands of workers walk out on strike in a bitter row over jobs, pay, pensions and worsening conditions.
More days of industrial action will also be held next month on the railways and London Underground.
Only around one in five trains are expected to run today on around half of the network. Some areas will have no trains all day.
Picket lines were being mounted outside train stations as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 14 train operators went on strike.
Travel advice to train passengers
Passengers have been urged to only travel by train if they must and if it is necessary.
They have also been told to allow extra time for their journey and check when their last train will depart.
Trains are also expected to be disrupted on Thursday (28 July) morning with a later start to services as employees return to duties.
Train strikes latest
More passengers were attempting to travel despite Wednesday’s rail strike than during last month’s industrial action.
Network Rail said around 15% more people were using its stations than on 23 June, which was the second day members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union had gone on strike in the bitter dispute over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions.
But the total remained around two-thirds down on a normal Wednesday.
Passengers were urged to only travel by train if they had to.
Only around 22% of services were running, with just half of the network open, and services were stopping at 6.30pm, meaning the last trains to many destinations were departing mid-afternoon.
Trains will also be disrupted on Thursday morning with a later start as employees return to duties.
Network Rail (NR) workers taking part in a series of strikes have lost around £1,500 each in pay and bonuses, according to the company.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) were on strike for the fourth time on Wednesday in a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.
NR’s chief executive Andrew Haines said he thought an agreement had been reached with RMT negotiators two weeks ago that an offer would be put to a ballot of members.
Figures from location technology firm TomTom show the level of road congestion in several cities at 9am on Wednesday was up slightly compared with the same time on Tuesday.
They include London and Cardiff (both up three percentage points), Glasgow (up five percentage points), Leeds (up seven percentage points) and Liverpool (up two percentage points).
The figures represent the proportion of additional time required for journeys compared with free-flow conditions.
Picketers line up outside Liverpool Lime Street station as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) take part in a fresh strike over jobs, pay and conditions.
Around one-third of all working hours across the rail network are filled by staff working overtime, striking workers in Bristol claim.
Staff on the picket line said the railway is an attractive option for school leavers because they can receive training on the job rather than spend on a degree.
However, Maureen, a guard of 32 years’ experience on the picket line at Bristol Temple Meads, said rail companies were reluctant to invest in staff.
She said: “They expect one person to do two people’s job and they prefer to rely on overtime.”
RMT members in Edinburgh gathered outside Waverley train station chanting “solidarity” and “workers united”.
Union member Mike Hogg said: “The purpose in the picket line today is to demonstrate to all concerned within the society that rail workers are on strike demanding a pay increase because rail workers have not had a pay increase for the last three years.
“I don’t think it’s been unreasonable to request a pay increase.
“What we are getting from Network Rail and the Government is an attack on terms and conditions and a resounding no to a pay increase.”
Jeremy Corbyn, who joined union members on the picket line outside Euston station, said the Government’s behaviour amid the strikes had been “utterly extraordinary”.
“Their behaviour is utterly extraordinary, and then the two leadership contenders, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, are now proposing to make public sector strikes illegal which would of course be contrary to the provisions of the International Labour Organisation convention,” he said.
The former Labour leader and now independent MP told the PA news agency that he was supporting the strikes because “the degree of poverty pay within the rail industry is huge, and now the levels of job insecurity have grown as well”.
“This is a strike to ensure that there is proper negotiation to bring about a resolution to this – so it’s a message to Grant Shapps that if you can’t help, keep out of the way and allow an agreement to be reached between the unions and the train companies or positively support it.”
Two picket lines of RMT and supporting Unison members stood outside Newcastle Central station, where a reduced service was running.
RMT regional executive committee member for the North East David King said:
“The public are 100% behind us – it’s absolutely overwhelming the amount of support we’ve been getting, it’s rock solid.
“People understand why we are doing it and they back us because they’re the same as us – they’re feeling the pinch as well.”
Union: ‘Shapps appears to have gone on strike himself – he’s not come anywhere near the negotiations’
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), told the PA news agency that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps “appears to have gone on strike himself”.
“I’ve got a very simple message for Grant Shapps, because at the moment the problem we’ve got is that, when we go into negotiation with the train operation companies, they’re not in control, they’re not free to negotiate.
“They have to go and seek authority from Grant Shapps for any offer that they may be able to put on the table.
“My message to Grant Shapps is very simple: either you get out of the way, or you get involved directly in talks. I don’t care which one it is, but unless he does that we’ve got no way to reach a settlement.”
Mr Cortes added: “Grant Shapps appears to have gone on strike himself – he’s not come anywhere near the negotiations.”