Rail strike chaos will spread into Wednesday as talks planned to avoid disruption

Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports on the impact of the biggest rail strikes in 30 years, with even more industrial action now seeming inevitable

The biggest rail strike for a generation caused severe disruption on Tuesday - and more cancellations are on the way on Wednesday.

Many passengers’ took several hours longer to finish their journeys than normal, while those who chose to travel by car instead faced a surge in traffic.

Just a fifth of trains ran on Tuesday and half of all lines were closed.

Last trains were much earlier than normal, such as London Euston to Glasgow at 1.30pm and London King’s Cross to Edinburgh at 2pm. The network was due to shut down at 6.30pm.

The chaos will continue on Wednesday, with only 60% of trains running, mainly due to a delay to the start of services as signallers and control room staff are not doing overnight shifts.

Talks between the RMT, Network Rail and train companies will resume on Wednesday in a bid to avoid further disruption this week.

Why is the strike happening?

Some 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators walked out on Tuesday in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Mick Lynch tells ITV News why the strikes are going ahead and what the unions say needs to change

RMT general-secretary Mick Lynch said: “Today’s turnout at picket lines has been fantastic and exceeded expectations in our struggle for job security, defending conditions and a decent pay rise.

“Our members will continue the campaign and have shown outstanding unity in the pursuit of a settlement to this dispute.

“RMT members are leading the way for all workers in this country who are sick and tired of having their pay and conditions slashed by a mixture of big business profits and Government policy.

“Now is the time to stand up and fight for every single railway worker in this dispute that we will win.”

PM's call to 'stay the course'

Much of Britain had no passenger trains at all 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.

ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports on how with travel chaos already impacted people across the UK, the threat of other industries striking grows.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a meeting of the Cabinet that reforms are vital for the rail industry and passengers.

He said: “I say this to the country as a whole, we need to get ready to stay the course.

“To stay the course, because these reforms, these improvements in the way we run our railways are in the interests of the travelling public, they will help to cut costs for farepayers up and down the country.”

Impact on retail and business

Retail analysts Springboard said footfall in central London was 27% down on last Tuesday, while city centres outside the capital suffered an 11% reduction.

Those who had to travel faced skeleton train timetables and increased traffic on the roads.

Electrical engineer Harry Charles said his normal 10-minute journey to work by train to London Bridge took him 90 minutes.

ITV News Social Affairs Correspondent Sarah Corker reports on how parents and businesses have been hit by the travel disruption as footfall on high streets dipped 

The 30-year-old, from Lewisham, south-east London, said: “Obviously I had to wake up early and left my house at 6am.

“I am with the employees who are striking because their money is not going up and the cost of everything is rising.

“The strike has caused a lot of hassle for people but everyone wants be able to eat.”

How bad was traffic on roads?

Figures published by location technology firm TomTom show the level of road congestion at 11am was higher than the same time last week in several cities.

Congestion levels increased compared to June 14 in:

  • London, from 38% to 51%

  • Cardiff, from 24% to 29%

  • Liverpool, from 24% to 30%

  • Manchester, from 27% to 34%

  • Newcastle, from 18% to 20%

The figures represent the proportion of additional time required for journeys compared with free-flowing conditions.

Commuters from around the country react to the strike action:

There were also severe queues on outer London sections of the M1, M4, A4 and A40.

Taxi app company Uber hiked its prices amid a spike in demand, with a three-mile journey from Paddington to King’s Cross estimated to cost £27 at 8.45am.

Strikes are also planned for Thursday and Saturday.

Pupils and parents were being urged to make an alternative plan for getting to school for A-level and GCSE exams.

Dispute 'could last months'

Mr Lynch warned that the dispute could continue for months.

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The union has been asked by Network Rail to attend formal consultation talks next month on introducing “modern working practices.”

Network Rail official Tim Shoveller said the changes will mean “dumping outdated working practices and introducing new technology.”

He added: “We expect this will reduce roles by around 1,800, the vast majority of which will be lost through voluntary severance and natural wastage.”

Talks between the RMT, Network Rail and train companies will resume on Wednesday.

No meetings were held on Tuesday as the first strike went ahead, crippling the rail network.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said "I don't know how long it will go on for" at the suggestion of repeated strikes over the following months, but warned the unions he plans to change laws to prevent strikes having such an impact in the future.

What does the government say?

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “These are desperately needed reforms that modernise the railway and put it on a sustainable footing for passengers and taxpayers.

“Unions have shut down big parts of the rail network, hitting local businesses and unfairly cutting people off from hospitals, schools and work.

“However, early data shows that unlike in the past many people now have the opportunity to work from home, so we haven’t even a rush to the roads, as traffic has instead gone online, which means the unions aren’t having the overall impact they might have hoped.”