Crewkerne cafe owner's takings halved on rail strike days

A cafe owner in Crewkerne has said the rail strikes have led to a 50% drop in takings at the business.

Day two of the industrial action left the town’s station much as it was on day one - deathly quiet.

That’s bad news for people in this South Somerset market town who rely on it for business.

Sue’s cafe is right next to the station and is run by a husband and wife team. It is usually packed in the mornings, but the lack of train passengers has hit them hard.

Martin and Sue say they are concerned about the strike on Saturday, their busiest day of the week Credit: ITV News West Country

Co-owner Martin Rousell said: "Tuesday was a total disaster. From 7am when we opened to 9am we had no customers in at all and the actual take for the day was down 50% on the day before.

"Wednesday was back up again but, as you've seen this morning, we've got very few customers and again only two before 9am, which is a bit distressing for us."

Crewkerne is a busy and popular station in the area, with many people using it to commute to London Waterloo and Exeter. On the strike days no services have been running.

The walkouts over pay, jobs and changes to working practices have led to huge reductions in services across the country.

Crewkerne station runs services to London Waterloo Credit: ITV News West Country

A spokesperson for South Western Railway, which runs the line through Crewkerne, said: “These damaging rail strikes are hitting small businesses right across the country and are the last thing they need after a challenging couple of years.

"The rail industry is calling on the RMT to work with it to find a resolution that works for all parties”.

Barry West, regional organiser for the union, said: "My optimism is that we can resolve this and we can get a settlement as soon as possible.

"We hope that this doesn't even go on on Saturday - that's our aim, that's our ambition. But that's down to the employers and it's down to the government to resolve that."

A former teacher, Martin has gone on strike himself in his career and he does have sympathy for rail workers. However, he fears the strikes may spread to other industries.

He said: "They haven't had a pay rise for a long time and the cost of living has gone up. But I think this strike is just too damaging.

"I worry that it might spread into other spheres of the community, but hopefully they'll get together and sort it out and the government will see that it can't be allowed to go on."

On the impact on businesses, Barry West from the RMT said: "We're disappointed about that and we're sorry about that. That is really regrettable."