Staffs from three firms across England holds 24-hours strikes today as passengers appear to have largely stay away from the rail network.
The strike action has now spread across the north of England as train drivers walk out over an ongoing dispute about changes to jobs, prompting MPs to brand the decision “premature” and “frustrating”.
Guards and drivers working for Merseyrail, Northern rail and Southern rail are taking action over proposals for driver-only-operated (DOO) trains.
Up to 2,000 of rail staff, Maritime and Transport union at Southern Railway, Merseyrail and Arriva Trains North are walking out for 24 hours in a growing row over the role of conductors, threatening some of the worst disruption since the industry was privatised.
According to BBC News Paul Barnfield, regional director at Northern, said He would like to thank all their customers for working with them today.
He urge everyone wanting to travel home today to think now about their return journey. That services on many routes will start to wind down from mid-afternoon onwards, with very few trains running after 5pm in the evening.
Worse disruption that expected was caused when train drivers refused to cross picket lines set up by other workers on Monday morning.
The union mounted picket lines outside stations, saying they were receiving support from the public for its campaign to keep a safety-critical guard on trains.
Merseyrail had hoped to run almost half its services, but a number of drivers refused to cross picket lines. The company said it was running around 20 per cent of services, far fewer than previously advertised.
Trains were still running on most routes, every half an hour, but they were not stopping at every station.
Andy Heath, of Merseyrail, said: “It is unfortunate that many drivers took the decision not to work today.
“This is bad news for travelling public within the Liverpool city region and the local economy, both of which will suffer as a result of today’s strike.”
Theresa May’s official spokesman said the prime minister was “disappointed …that once again the RMT are disrupting passengers across the country”.
He said: “These strikes are unnecessary. The RMT should return to talks and help deliver the high-quality rail services that passengers deserve.”
Mr Stuart MP said: “The union’s action is totally premature as it has not yet undertaken detailed discussions with Northern Rail about its plans for the future of the service and local people and businesses will be baffled and frustrated that they are the ones being inconvenienced.
“The sensible thing to do in these circumstances would be for the union to talk to the train operator about its concerns rather than seek to grandstand in this way. Jumping the gun with strike action won’t resolve anything and it certainly won’t win public sympathy for their cause.”