Simon Calder, often known as The Man Who Pays His Way, has been writing about journey for The Independent since 1994. In his weekly opinion column, he explores a key journey difficulty – and what it means for you
“Please only travel by train if necessary,” rail passengers had been instructed once more on Saturday. It was day three of the strike by members of the RMT union in a dispute over pay, jobs and dealing practices.
The rail union should be completely delighted: though the prepare operators are working a dependable, competent service on about half of the British community, potential passengers are being urged to remain at house or drive as an alternative, with a dire warning of extreme disruption for anybody who ventures out on the rails.
This month’s strikes are very different from the last great summer shutdown, in 1989, as a result of that stoppage actually did shut the rail community.
For folks residing in huge swathes of the UK, together with Cornwall, Dorset, virtually all of Wales and far of Scotland, there is no such thing as a tangible distinction. But on the lines that see the most travellers, a perfectly decent service was operating between 7.30pm and 6.30pm.
At Birmingham New Street, trains got here and went on hyperlinks to London Euston, Manchester, Derby, Sheffield, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
From London Paddington, GWR was working frequent providers to Reading, Swindon, Cardiff, Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth, with particular departures on the “Glastonbury Express” to Castle Cary in Somerset, the closest railway station to the pageant website. The journey took as little as 98 minutes, with a lowest off-peak fare of £40.30 a method.
Mark Hopwood, managing director of GWR, believes in treating passengers like grown-ups. At a busy Paddington station on the primary day of the strike, he instructed me: “Where we are running trains, we are very happy for people to come and travel, but we really don’t want to have people stranded.
“Just check your times for your journey out – and your journey back.”
His counterpart at state-run LNER, David Horne, tweeted on Saturday morning about London-bound trains from Yorkshire, Newcastle and Edinburgh: “Good to see plenty of customers travelling already this morning, heading to concerts and other events.
“Plenty of customers heading to see Ed Sheeran at Wembley and the Rolling Stones at Hyde Park tonight.”
Rival Lumo, the “open access” operator between London King’s Cross, Newcastle and Edinburgh, even added an additional spherical journey on Saturday, with tickets for quick departure out there for £39.90 a method – and railcard reductions utilized as common.
Britain’s main airports had been linked with the cities they serve by frequent trains till the tip of providers. All London Heathrow airport terminals had been linked from London Paddington.
Gatwick had frequent connections with London Bridge and Victoria within the capital, in addition to to and from Brighton.
On the Stansted Express, an hourly service operated to and from London Liverpool Street, calling at Bishop’s Stortford, Harlow Town and Tottenham Hale for the London Underground.
Luton Airport Parkway was served by 4 trains an hour from London St Pancras International, with bus connections to the airport taking an additional 5 minutes. Direct trains from the airport station additionally served St Albans, Harpenden, Bedford, Wellingborough, Kettering and Corby.
To and from Manchester airport, there have been common providers from Manchester, Liverpool and Preston, in addition to from cities akin to Wilmslow and Newton-le-Willows.
Other British airports with good rail connections regardless of the strike included Birmingham, Southampton and Newcastle, served by the Tyne and Wear Metro.
Yet the rail business insists: “Only travel by rail if necessary.”
Shock information: whereas my journey plans are my enterprise, we passengers have a tendency to not make pointless journeys. Why on earth the rail business would need to feed the parable that the nation shuts down when a rail strike occurs is past me: all of it provides to a pervading sense of unreliability.
If, heaven forbid, there are additional strikes, I hope the prepare operators will use the next for public messaging: “We recognise that tens of thousands of rail workers want and deserve a better deal. We hope we can reach a settlement soon. Meanwhile, we are running trains where they are most in demand.
“If you can make your journey by rail, you really should – for safety, for the environment and for a more relaxed journey.”