Ride-hailing operators expecting ‘significant’ surge in demand during rail strikes

Ride-hailing operators expecting ‘significant’ surge in demand during rail strikes
Uber is expecting a significant increase in demand

Taxi operators say they are expecting a “significant” surge in demand during the rail strikes.

Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 13 train operators will walk out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the biggest outbreak of industrial action on the railways for a generation.

Services across the UK will start to be affected from Monday evening, with just one in five trains running on strike days, primarily on main lines and only for around 11 hours.

London Underground workers are also on strike on Tuesday.

Uber said it is experiencing “significant” demand and has informed drivers in order to ensure enough cars are on the road.

Travellers will likely see surge pricing with Uber, which sees the fare increase automatically in response to real-time demand when there are not enough available cars – although the company caps surge prices during periods of significant disruption.

'We are informing drivers'

A spokesperson said: “We are expecting significant increases in demand as a result of strike action across the rail network next week.

“We are informing drivers of the expected increase in demand to help ensure there are enough cars out on the road.”

In London Addison Lee taxis had limited availability on Tuesday morning during the main commuting hours.

Meanwhile, National Express said coaches have also seen a surge in bookings and enquiries on their UK-wide scheduled network.

The coach operator said they are 65% sold out across the network and anticipate this to hit more than 85% with seats still selling fast.

'Prepared to be busy'

A spokesman said: “We have seen a significant increase in both enquiries and bookings for travel on our UK-wide scheduled network on and around the dates of the strikes.

“We are working hard to increase availability where we can but it is not possible to match the demand of the rail network and there are only limited seats still available,” they added.

“We do expect and are prepared to be busy but also recommend that customers allow plenty of time when planning their journey.”

Social media users have been complaining about trying to book taxis to airports but being faced with huge fares.

A London cabbie with the Twitter handle @GreenBadgeE1 wrote: “We London Taxi drivers will be out to support you during strikes.

“[Please] note the traffic may be more than usual and fares might be higher plz don’t take out your frustrations on us.”

Downing Street warned on Monday that it will be “extremely difficult” commuting during the rail strikes.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need You Know...