More walkouts of rail workers to come on Wednesday as CrossCountry services hit while airports under pressure
Transport chaos continues to reign as long suffering passengers were hit with yet more delays and cancellations with train services disrupted, tubes delayed and airports disrupted.
Huge queues of people were left waiting at major train stations across London and beyond on Tuesday amid ongoing disruption despite the end of an RMT strike.
Hundreds of passengers packed inside King’s Cross and Paddington, with some journeys delayed due to the late handover of engineering works.
Travel journalist Simon Calder said there was “chaos” at Paddington, with no trains having arrived or departed by 10am despite industrial action by the RMT union ending at 6am. Network Rail said the situation improved later in the day.
TSSA members at Great Western Railway will strike from noon on Wednesday to 11.59am on Thursday, along with West Midlands Trains. The strike threatens to cripple large parts of the rail network.
The union believes that walkouts by staff will severely affect services at CrossCountry, which covers large swathes of the country, from Penzance to the Midlands, Wales and northern England through to Scottish cities as far north as Aberdeen.
Along with the RMT they have the power to grind rail services to a virtual halt.
The TSSA also staged a 24-hour strike from 9pm on Boxing Day as part of a long-running campaign for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, no unagreed changes to terms and conditions, and a pay increase which addresses the rising cost of living.
Tube passengers have also been hit with engineering works which caused the part closure of the district line and with Elizabeth line services also severely hit with a limited number of trains to Heathrow.
Meanwhile there was ‘pandemonium’ at Gatwick where stranded passengers battled to get taxis and coaches with the Gatwick Express out of action for engineering works until January 2. The problems were compounded by a Border Force strike with staff who check passports on a walkout.
One twitter user wrote: “The journey continues. Utter pandemonium at Gatwick, so I’m taking the bus to Caterham and then hopefully home from there. “
There were no rail services in an out of Gatwick on Boxing Day. It’s usually served by the Gatwick Express, Southern, Thameslink and Great Western Railway. As well as the rail strike, Border Force strikes have continued at six UK airports, including Gatwick.
Around 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, who are employed by the Home Office to operate passport booths, walked out at Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester airports, and the port of Newhaven in East Sussex. Apart from Tuesday they will not work for the rest of the year as part of their industrial action.
Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union general secretary Mark Serwotka predicted there would be a “huge escalation” in industrial action in January across the civil service unless ministers enter into negotiations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he is “sad and disappointed” that industrial action is set to disrupt Christmas getaways.
The prime minister admitted setting public sector pay was a “difficult question” but insisted that “the government has acted fairly and reasonably in accepting all the recommendations of the independent public sector pay review bodies”.