London train strike latest LIVE : Eerily quiet rush-hour as limited rail services finish early

·20 min read
London train strike latest LIVE : Eerily quiet rush-hour as limited rail services finish early

Normally bustling train stations across London are deserted at rush-hour, as Thursday’s strike action draws to a close.

RMT and TSSA members walked off the job, drastically reducing rail services across the country.

Any trains that are running will only operate until 6.30pm.

On Friday, strikes are planned among Tube, bus and Overground workers in London before a second day of rail strikes on Saturday.

The London Overground is running a reduced service, between 8am and 6pm, the Elizabeth line, District Line and Bakerloo Line will also run reduced services. The remainder of the Tube is not expected to be impacted, though services are expected to be busier than usual. On Friday, Tube, London Overground and bus strikes will affect most TfL services.

Striking rail workers are “dug in” for a long battle which could drag on when Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak take over as Prime Minister, RMT chief Mick Lynch said.

Mr Lynch told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Our members are dug in to this dispute. We told them it was not going to be a sprint, it is going to be more of a long term issue.”

Goodnight

18:18 , Miriam Burrell

That’s all for our live coverage today.

For more on strikes planned for Friday and Saturday, check in tomorrow.

London stations deserted at rush-hour

17:19 , Miriam Burrell

London train stations are strangely serene at what is normally a bustling, rush-hour for commuters heading home.

Strikes across the country have severely reduced services, with trains only running until 6.30pm on Thursday.

The disrupton is set to continue into Friday, with Tube, bus and Overground strikes planned.

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

London Tube, bus and Overground strikes

16:10 , Miriam Burrell

Planning to travel in London tomorrow?

Here is an explainer on what strikes are taking place in the capital on Friday and why.

If you want alternative transport options, have a look here.

Transport for London (TfL) strike updates can be found here.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Shapps must come to the table or mandate negotiations, TSSA says

15:58 , Miriam Burrell

Manuel Cortes (PA Archive)
Manuel Cortes (PA Archive)

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps must come to the table or give train operators the mandate to negotiate, TSSA’s general secretary has said.

Manuel Cortes also warned that the rail dispute will continue “for as long as it takes” to reach a negotiated settlement.

He praised union members for being “magnificent” on picket lines today, saying for some, it was their first experience of industrial action.

We very much hope that common sense will now prevail, and the Department for Transport Train Operators will make a revised offer, as we have heard nothing from them since their derisory and insulting two per cent pay offer with more strings attached than a violin quartet many weeks ago.

“If they do, we will engage in further discussions with them at once.

“We are also continuing to engage with Network Rail and talks are ongoing.”

More than 5,000 TSSA members from 11 train operators and Network Rail have taken industrial action on Thursday.

Pictured: Stored trains

15:29 , Miriam Burrell

Unused trains are being stored at a sidings in Ely, Cambridgeshire as RMT and TSSA union members strike.

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Other routes to travel to London’s hotspots

14:43 , Bill Mcloughlin

Amid the strike action today and over the weekend, Covent Garden has released advice on how to reach the busy central London area.

In a tweet, travellers were advised to use bikes or indeed the Thames Clipper.

Rail unions holding ‘commuters hostage’, says James Cleverly

14:30 , Bill Mcloughlin

Education secretary, James Cleverly has said that rail union “are holding commuters hostage” by staging fruther strike action this week.

RMT: £120m of tax payers’ money used to ‘bail out’ train companies

14:01 , Miriam Burrell

RMT union general secretary Mick Lynch has warned the rail dispute could be prolonged “indefinitely” as train companies “don’t lose a penny” over strikes.

The union claims that, including the previous and forthcoming industrial action, more than £120 million of taxpayers’ money had been used to “bail out” private train companies to date.

The Department for Transport said union leaders are opting to “inflict misery and disrupt the day-to-day lives of millions”.

It urged unions to hold a referendum on the latest offer from Network Rail.

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Commuters thank unions for rail strikes

13:25 , Miriam Burrell

Commuters have thanked unions for rail strikes across the country on Thursday, saying they are “saving a fortune in fares” by working from home.

Some have taken to Twitter to celebrate having hours of their time back, to enjoy an “outdoors brew”, have lie-in or watch sport.

Read more reaction here.

Strikes on August 19, 20

13:16 , Miriam Burrell

Strikes are continuing into Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, London Underground, Overground and bus services will be severely disrupted by strike action.

Transport for London (TfL) is urging people to avoid travel on the Tube if possible and to only travel on the rest of the network if essential.

You can find more details of affected TfL services for the rest of the week here.

On Saturday, a number of rail services will be affected.

The companies affected by this strike will be Network Rail, Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, Transpennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains, London Overground, and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

Affected TfL services

13:06 , Miriam Burrell

Most TfL services are running as normal, but expect disruption on the following lines on Thursday:

  • London Overground - reduced service between 8am and 6pm.

  • Elizabeth line

    • Central (Paddington-Abbey Wood) - reduced service after 18:00

    • East (Liverpool Street-Shenfield) - trains running every 30 minutes 07:00-17:30 only. Trains won’t stop at Maryland, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Goodmayes

    • West (Paddington-Reading/Heathrow) - trains every 30 minutes 07:10-17:40 only. Heathrow trains only running to Terminal 4.

  • District line - no service between Wimbledon and Parson’s Green, and Richmond and Turnham Green before 8am and after 6pm

  • Bakerloo line - no service north of Queen’s Park

Affected rail services

13:03 , Miriam Burrell

Here is a recap of affected rail services on Thursday.

Network Rail said a fifth of services will be running. Trains that are operating will run only between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

  • Chiltern Railways

  • CrossCountry

  • Greater Anglia

  • LNER

  • East Midlands Railway

  • c2c

  • Great Western Railway

  • Northern Trains

  • South Eastern

  • South Western Railway

  • TransPennine Express

  • Avanti West Coast

  • West Midlands Trains

  • GTR (including Gatwick Express)

  • London Overground

  • Great Western Railway

  • Hull Trains

  • London Northwestern Railway

Pictured: A deserted Waterloo station

12:26 , Miriam Burrell

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Pictured: Picket lines across London

11:46 , Miriam Burrell

Union members have formed picket lines outside London stations and across the country this morning.

Watch: Network Rail boss says ‘good deal’ needs to be put to referendum

11:32 , Miriam Burrell

Network Rail’s boss said he believes workers would accept their “good deal” if it was put to a referendum.

Chief executive Andrew Haines told BBC Breakfast the RMT union has “refused” to put the deal to a referendum.

“That’s the way to unlock this, that’s the way to get rid of huge frustration for passengers today.”

Department for Transport: Union leaders inflicting ‘misery'

11:13 , Miriam Burrell

The Department for Transport says union leaders are inflicting misery on millions, including thousands of A-level students who have been “denied the chance to celebrate”.

A spokesperson said union bosses are urged to “do the right thing” and let members have their say on Network Rail’s “very fair deal”.

“Today, thousands of A-level students across the country, many of whom have spent the majority of their college years studying at home due to the pandemic, are now being denied the chance to celebrate their hard work and dedication face to face with peers and teachers.

“It’s clear strikes are not the powerful tool they once were and union chiefs are no longer able to bring the country to a standstill as, unlike them, the world has changed and people simply work from home.

“All these strikes are doing is hurting those people the unions claim to represent, many of whom will again be out of pocket and forced to miss a day’s work.”

Pictured: Euston station

10:58 , Miriam Burrell

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London Mayor needs to ‘get in coalition’ with workers, Lynch says

10:44 , Miriam Burrell

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said London Mayor Sadiq Khan is being held “ransom” by the government, and he needs to “get into a coalition with the workers”.

He said he will put Sadiq Khan “under manners” as he accused the London Mayor of sacrificing rail workers’ jobs and pension schemes.

At a picket line at Euston station, Mr Lynch said: “Sadiq Khan’s got some massive problems because he’s been put under the cosh by a right-wing Government and by the people at the Treasury.

“They’re holding him to ransom.

“Unfortunately, what Sadiq Khan is doing is offering our members’ pension schemes, and our members’ jobs and terms and conditions, as a sacrifice to the Treasury to get funding.”

Mick Lynch (PA)
Mick Lynch (PA)

Jeremy Corbyn says sacking of Sam Tarry ‘unfair'

10:37 , Miriam Burrell

Jeremy Corbyn has criticised Sir Keir Starmer’s sacking of a shadow transport minister for giving interviews from a picket line last month.

Speaking from a picket line outside London’s Euston station, the former Labour leader said Sam Tarry’s treatment was “very unfair”.

“Sam is a trade union person like me, he used to work for the TSSA, he went on a picket line to support his union and his members.

“I think to dismiss him from his shadow position was very unfair.”

Jeremy Corbyn on picket line at Euston station (PA)
Jeremy Corbyn on picket line at Euston station (PA)

Labour: Shapps could resolve strikes by ‘doing his job’

10:33 , Miriam Burrell

Labour’s leaders say Grant Shapps could solve ongoing strikes by “getting round the table and doing his job”.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Instead, desperate and destructive plans from a failed Transport Secretary due to be put out of service. Nothing to offer working people facing the cost-of-living emergency. “

Leader Sir Keir Starmer echoed: “The government still has no answers to help working people.”

‘There is no need to get aggressive and walk away'

10:15 , Miriam Burrell

Commuter Markku Viherlaiho, 67, waiting at Liverpool Street station, said: “I do support workers they have the fundamental right to strike. But their arguements weren’t very clear to me. They are getting eight per cent pay rise which I know is still under inflation.

“I’m a nurse and we only got offered four per cent so they have a pretty good deal.

“I’ve had to do some filming and we have people coming in from all over Europe today some have had to drive down from Liverpool because of the strikes. I was very worried it would be cancelled.

“It absolutely needs to be resolved. They need to keep talking there is no need to get aggressive and walk away. It seems that the workers have a lot of distrust with management.”

Markku Viherlaiho (Barney Davis)
Markku Viherlaiho (Barney Davis)

Striking worker ‘shocked’ by support from Londoners

09:39 , Sarah Harvey

Rail workers on the picket line admitted there would be more strike action planned after Friday and Saturday if “change” doesn’t come out of talks.

Wale Ajunbiade, RMT branch secretary for East London, was on the picket line outside Liverpool Street.

He said: “I’m slightly shocked we still have so much support from Londoners. I want to thank them really.

“We haven’t had any backlash at all since being here, not one. This is becoming normal.

“It’s not just down to Mick Lynch being amazing but more to do with the truth being out there.

“I think people have had enough. You can’t have a person on £500k a year telling people on £18k to accept a pay cut.

He added on any more strikes planned after Friday and Saturday: “The aim is there will be talks and changes.

“No-one wants to strike we all want to go to work. But if you don’t have change you have to take any action you can.”

 (Barney Davis/Evening Standard)
(Barney Davis/Evening Standard)

Strikes now just mean WFH, says internet boss

09:08 , Sarah Harvey

A top broadband boss has said the firm expects to see a ‘huge increase’ in internet usage today as millions more work from home due to the rail strike disruption.Tony Hughes, CEO of full fibre broadband provider 4th Utility, said on strike days, the firm’s servers generally see an increase in both downstream and upstream traffic of anything up to 15 per cent.

“Once again, we’ll see millions more people abandoning their commutes and working from studies, kitchens and spare bedrooms, using high bandwidth platforms for video conferencing like Google Hangouts, Teams and Zoom.

“Luckily, due to the pandemic and our experience over the past few years of people suddenly switching around their routines to work from home, we’re well prepared for this.”

Mick Lynch speaks from Euston Station

09:03 , Sarah Harvey

Transport Editor Ross Lydall has spoken to RMT’s Mick Lynch outside Euston Station. You can watch his interview here:

Grant Shapps ‘trying to flex his right-wing muscles’, claims Mick Lynch

08:55 , Sarah Harvey

Mick Lynch has accused the Transport Secretary of trying to "flex his right-wing muscles" to get a job under Conservative leadership candidates Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss.

Speaking at Euston, the RMT general secretary told the PA news agency: "Grant Shapps is getting more and more hysterical.

"What I think you're seeing is a man who's worried about his future. He's got to try and flex his right-wing muscles in front of a parade of two really right-wing people who are going to be his boss.

"So I don't know what Grant Shapps is up to. I don't think the employers really know what he's up to. And I don't think the officials at the Department for Transport know what he's up to.

"Last week he threatened to make everyone redundant on the railway by issuing letters called Section 188 letters.

"I think he's lost the plot slightly and he needs to get back on track and enable a settlement to this dispute."

Mick Lynch outside Euston Station on Thursday (PA)
Mick Lynch outside Euston Station on Thursday (PA)

Strikes are a ‘never-ending story’, says holidaymaker

08:38 , Sarah Harvey

At Tottenham Hale would-be holidaymakers were anxiously waiting to get on a Stansted Express service reduced to just two an hour, reports Barney Davis.Tom Hobbes, 32, was trying to get to a flight to join up with his lad’s holiday in Turkey.He said: “I’m a nervous flyer anyway so I tried to factor in the strikes in the journey time.“I’m just praying it’s not going to be packed on the carriage and we get let on because it’s cutting it fine already.“The strikes just seem to be a never-ending story, nothing ever seems to be resolved.”

 (Barney Davis/Evening Standard)
(Barney Davis/Evening Standard)

Workers ‘not clear what they are striking for,’ says Network Rail boss

08:23 , Sarah Harvey

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, said he does not believe workers are "clear on what they're striking for" and argued that the problem is not with the Government but the RMT union.

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain just after RMT boss Mick Lynch, Mr Haines said the situation "absolutely is frustrating".

"We've been talking for over 18 months. We started these talks actually with Mick's predecessor and so there's no lack of readiness to talk. The issue is there are some fundamental disagreements," Mr Haines said.

"Where I have a fundamental disagreement is that I don't think colleagues are clear on what they're striking for now," he continued.

"Mick mentioned pensions - that's not an issue for Network Rail. He mentioned job security - we've given a guarantee of a job for every single person in Network Rail who wants a job affected by our proposals.

"Now we've done our very best to meet those sort of issues but the common factor here is the RMT; it's not the Government.

"There are strikes on TfL, there are what, 13-14 train operators? Network Rail? All of those issues have been getting trapped together and I think many people striking are not clear. That's why we think the way to solve this is to put our offer, a very decent fair offer, to a referendum of RMT members. My staff, and I think that's the way to solve this."

Solution not possible because of ‘political interference’, says Mick Lynch

08:15 , Sarah Harvey

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), said he fears finding a solution will not be possible because of "political interference" as workers stage another rail strike.

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain from Euston Station on Thursday, he said the union have been working with Network Rail and the train operating companies but "the gap between us is still there".

"We've got to find a way to bridge that but I fear that because of the political interference that's happening with the public transport and the Treasury, we're not able to do that," he said.

"We've also got a dispute tomorrow with London Underground - which is more of the same that the funding from the railway has been cut and that means an attack on rail workers across the land and I think many workers are suffering from that at this moment.

"They're not getting a square deal but we'll keep working with the companies to get a negotiated settlement and as soon as we can do that, will put it to our members and hopefully we can get the railway back providing service the that public needs."

He later added: "We will work those problems through but what we need is the management to have the ability to negotiate and I think this has been has been partially caught up in the Tory leadership election or selection process that they're going through and I think because those candidates have both both taken a turn to the hard right in this country, it's very difficult to find the the ability to create a settlement."

Striking workers ‘dug in for long battle'

07:52 , Sarah Harvey

Striking rail workers are “dug in” for a long battle which could drag on when Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak take over as Prime Minister, RMT chief Mick Lynch said on Thursday.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Our members are dug in to this dispute.

“We told them it was not going to be a sprint, it is going to be more of a long term issue.”

He accused the Government of thwarting rail chiefs attempts to reach an agreement.

“What we need is for the management to have the ability to negotiate,” he added.

“I think this has been partially caught up in the Tory leadership election, or selection process.

“Because those candidates have both taken a turn to the Hard Right in this country, it’s very difficult to find the ability to create a settlement.”

Connect 4? No TfL’s way of showing what services are running

07:42 , Sarah Harvey

Ross Lydall has spotted TfL’s latest attempt to simplify what services will be running over strike days.

 (Ross Lydall/Evening Standard)
(Ross Lydall/Evening Standard)

Euston Station ‘eerily quiet'

07:35 , Sarah Harvey

Transport Editor Ross Lydall has been at an “eerily quiet” Euston Station.

Only a dozen trains were due to depart from the mainline station by 9am as the RMT began its fifth day of action - the sixth rail strike this year including the Aslef strike last Saturday.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, who was on a picket line outside Euston, hinted there was a “deal to be done” over pay and working conditions with Network Rail but said “political interference” from the Government was preventing a settlement.

Strikes could stop people using trains, says Network Rail boss

07:22 , Sarah Harvey

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines warned strikes could lead to people stopping using the trains, given many can work from home, which could threaten job security for railway staff.

He told LBC Radio: “Strikes will tell people they don’t need the railway.

“They can actually go about their lives without it.

“That brings job insecurity. It brings less spending to the railway and makes the whole situation worse.

“That’s why I really urge the RMT to put our proposition (eight per cent pay rise over two years, no compulsory redundancies and a staff travel discount scheme) to their membership, get a referendum on it, and I believe that that will get accepted and then these strikes could be called off and we can start regrowing the railways, building confidence in it again.”

The affected companies

07:15 , Sarah Harvey

Network Rail says about 4,300 services will run on Thursday - about a fifth of the normal service level.

Trains that are operating will run only between 7.30am and 6.30pm. The companies affected are:

  • Chiltern Railways

  • CrossCountry

  • Greater Anglia

  • LNER

  • East Midlands Railway

  • c2c

  • Great Western Railway

  • Northern Trains

  • South Eastern

  • South Western Railway

  • TransPennine Express

  • Avanti West Coast

  • West Midlands Trains

  • GTR (including Gatwick Express)

  • London Overground

  • Great Western Railway

  • Hull Trains

  • London Northwestern Railway

TfL services impacted on Thursday

07:09 , Sarah Harvey

  • London Overground - Reduced service between 8am and 6pm. No service before 8am or after 6pm

  • Elizabeth line

    • Central (Paddington-Abbey Wood) - reduced service after 6pm

    • East (Liverpool Street-Shenfield) - trains running every 30 minutes 7am-5.30pm only. Trains won’t stop at Maryland, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Goodmayes

    • West (Paddington-Reading/Heathrow) - trains every 30 minutes 7.10am - 5.40pm only. Heathrow trains only running to Terminal 4.

  • District line - No service between Wimbledon and Parson’s Green, and Richmond and Turnham Green before 8am and after 6pm

  • Bakerloo line - No service north of Queen’s Park