Stations are quiet as workers go on strike for the second time in a week

The major train stations are much quieter than usual as thousands of railroad workers went on strike for the second time in a week.

Dinburgh Waverley, London Euston, London Paddington and Liverpool Lime Street are among the stations with far fewer passengers than on a normal weekday.

Broadband provider Virgin Media O2 said it recorded usage up to 10% on the first day of the strike on Tuesday, indicating “millions more people are working from home” this week.

About 40,000 Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members at Network Rail and 13 train operators left again on Thursday after talks failed to resolve a bitter dispute over wages, jobs and conditions.

Only one of the five trains runs and they are mostly limited to the main lines, with about half of the network closed.

Services start later than usual at 7:30 and close earlier at 18:30.

Members of the Aslef drivers union in Greater England are also on strike Thursday over a separate wage dispute.

The company advises passengers to travel only when necessary.

Meanwhile, the government has announced plans to change the law to allow businesses to provide skilled agency workers to fill shortages during strikes.

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Passengers at Waterloo Station as train service continues to be interrupted (James Manning/Pennsylvania)

The ministers pointed out that, under current union law, employment businesses are prohibited from providing temporary agency workers to cover strikers, stating that this could have a “disproportionate impact”.

The government said the law would lift “burdensome” legal restrictions, giving strike-hit companies the freedom to use employment companies that can provide qualified temporary staff on short notice.

Network Rail welcomed the move, but Labor and unionists denounced it as a “recipe for disaster”.

Several major stations were much quieter than usual Thursday morning, including Edinburgh Waverley, London Euston, London Paddington and Liverpool Lime Street.

But crowds of holidaymakers were worried they would miss their flights as a train delay had them stranded at London’s Liverpool Street station.

We will continue our industrial campaign until we have an agreed agreement that provides job security and pay increases for our members to help manage the worsening cost-of-living crisis.Mick Lynch, RMT

The Stansted Express normally departs twice an hour from the UK’s third busiest station, but the strike has reduced that number to one.

One man who was returning to Sofia in Bulgaria after three days in London complained that it was “stressful”.

When asked how long he was going to wait, the man, who had been stuck at the station for half an hour, replied: “I don’t know, I’m just looking at the board, I hope not too long.”

National Highways network senior planner Frank Byrd said traffic on Highways and Major Roads A was “surprisingly good” Thursday morning.

“The look of the network is such that the amount of traffic is going down,” he told the PA news agency.

“If you’re moving in and out of the city and downtown, they’re a little busy.”

He added: “Two years later (after the Covid pandemic) we have learned to work differently, people are working from home, so it’s a completely different picture.

“People can still keep working even as the rail dispute continues.”

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RMT union member near Waterloo Station (James Manning/PA)

Location technology company TomTom said traffic levels in London were 83% at 9am, up from 75% at the same time last week.

But the traffic level decreased or only slightly increased in a number of other cities, such as Glasgow (from 40% to 36%), Liverpool (from 49% to 47%), Manchester (from 64% to 66%). ) and Newcastle (up from 49% to 50%).

The figures reflect the proportion of extra travel time required compared to free flow conditions.

Steve Montgomery, who heads the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, was asked why rail workers are not guaranteed that the reforms will not lead to forced layoffs.

He told BBC Breakfast that this would depend on the scope of the reforms, the popularity of voluntary redundancy schemes and the number of workers who could be retrained.

He added: “We believe that once we complete the reform, we hope to accommodate everyone who wants to stay in the organization.

“So we just have to go through the processes and see how many people are left and hopefully no one is demanding a forced layoff.”

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Trains parked on sidings at Heaton depot in Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)

RMT accused Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps of “wrecking” the talks by preventing Network Rail from retracting its letter “threatening to fire 2,900 of our members”.

Mr Shapps hit back, saying the RMT statement was “a lie”.

Kevin Groves, head of media at Network Rail, told Times Radio Breakfast: “Negotiations are about give and take, and at the moment RMT just takes, takes, takes.

“We’re talking about modernizing archaic ways of working.”

RMT Assistant Secretary General Eddie Dempsey said he thought “the public is behind us.”

He told the PA news agency: “They understand that this is a scandal, that billions are being pulled out of our industry while workers are being punished.

“Teachers, they are facing a cost-of-living crisis, (also) postal workers, communications workers, medical workers.

“We think there will be more wage demands in the economy, and we think that’s the right thing to do.

“It’s time for Britain to raise wages. Wages have been falling for 30 years, and corporate profits are skyrocketing.”