Empty platforms as every train across Shropshire and mid Wales cancelled by rail strike

Platforms were empty and railway stations across Shropshire were eerily quiet as the largest rail strike for a generation crippled Britain's train services.

All quiet at Shrewsbury Railway Station
All quiet at Shrewsbury Railway Station

No trains were running on Shropshire's or mid Wales rail lines on Tuesday, while across the UK just a fifth of trains ran and half of lines were closed, as around 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators walked out.

At Shrewsbury Railway Station the doors were closed and ornate gates to the historic building were locked.

The platforms were empty, yet automated loudspeaker safety messages could still be heard.

Kelly Goodall, struggling to get to Wellington from Shrewsbury Railway Station

The car park in the shadow of the Dana Prison, usually full of cars left by train passengers was almost empty.

There were similar scenes at Telford Central and other stations across Shropshire.

Despite the strikes dominating the national news, a handful of would be passengers turned up outside the station at Castle Forgate in Shrewsbury, not realising the strike meant no trains at all were running through the county.

Message at Shrewsbury Railway Station

A family starting out their holiday arrived with suitcases on their way to an airport and and had find a cab to continue their journey.

Workers, John Praixe and Victor Olutola, had hoped to find a train to Birmingham.

"We have been working in Shrewsbury and haven't really had time to watch the news," John said.

They hastily looked up bus times and were able to make the short trip on foot to the town's bus station just in time to board the Birmingham service.

John Daly from Birmingham, trying to get back home

John Daly, from Birmingham, was trying to get back home from Shrewsbury after walking the 136-mile Shropshire Way. He too said he would have to look at bus options, as did Kelly Goodhall trying to get to Wellington.

Many workers who would normally take the train opted for buses but it meant longer journey times.

Nicky Lloyd-White had to be at the bus station in Shrewsbury before 7.30am to ensure she arrived at Whitchurch Church of England School before 9am.

Nicky Lloyd-White opts for a bus to get her to Whitchurch Church of England School

"The train journey only takes 20 minutes," she said.

"Today I will be arriving at school at the same time as the children."

She added: "I completely understand the rail workers wanting to protect their jobs."

Birmingham New Street station

Workers travelling into offices and businesses across Shropshire had to make other plans to ensure they could still be available despite the strike.

Some were able to work from home others had to arrange alternative transport.

Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said the rail strikes had a knock on effect on the chamber's members.

"They have had to deal with the Covid Pandemic and are now trying to cope with escalating energy costs and other price rises. Now the rail strikes are another thing to contend with," he said.

Students in some parts of Shropshire are also being affected.

Many use the trains to get to secondary school and college, particuarly in the south of the county on the Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Hereford rail line.

Wolverhampton University also had many students from Telford who use the train.

Some secondary students had to make other transport arrangement to get into their campus to sit -A-levels.

Hereford College, which has many students from Shropshire, said about a third of its students used the train to get to college.

At Birmingham New Street station, a few would-be passengers and commuters were trying to work out their travel plans, gazing at timetables on their phones and the departures board on the main concourse.

Carol Hutchinson, on her way back to the Lake District after a six-hour flight from Egypt, landed in the UK to find her direct train from Birmingham International station cancelled.

Having made her way to New Street, she was waiting to board, with her luggage, what appeared to be one of the few trains still running.

"I think it's going to be standing room only... I'm not even sure I'll get on with my suitcase," she said.

Shrewsbury train station, where strikes have left it quiet, empty platforms, car park, and some time to jet wash the platforms..

National services were restricted to main lines and cities, but even those were only open between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Usually busy stations such as London Euston were nearly deserted except for union picket lines.

London Underground services were also suspended on the vast majority of lines on Tuesday due to a walkout by workers.

Time to jet wash the platforms at Shrewsbury

People trying to travel around the capital faced long queues for buses and there was anger at Uber hiked its prices amid a spike in demand, with a three-mile journey from Paddington to King's Cross estimated to cost £27 at 8.45am.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there would be meetings of the Cobra emergency committee on the rail strikes this week.

He said he does not meet unions, as he described calls for him to join them round the negotiating table as a "stunt".

"If I thought there was a one in a million chance it would make a slightest bit of difference, of course I would do so at the drop of the hat," he added.

Last-ditch talks failed to resolve the bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions, with all sides blaming each other for the lack of progress.

Strikes are also planned for Thursday and Saturday.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch warned that the dispute could continue for months.

He said: "It is clear that the Tory Government, after slashing £4 billion of funding from National Rail and Transport for London, has now actively prevented a settlement to this dispute."

The Department for Transport disputed Mr Lynch's clams, adding that it has cost taxpayers about £600 per household to keep the railway running during the coronavirus pandemic.

Traders and taxi drivers feel the effects too

Coffee shops close to Shrewsbury Railway Station were quieter than usual on Tuesday.

While regulars walking to their places of work in the town centre still called in for their morning drink, the businesses noticed a big difference in the passing trade.

Olivia Topple runs The Shrewsbury Coffee House in Castle Gates, close to the Victorian Railway Station.

The Shrewsbury Coffee House, opposite the station was quieter than usual. Picured are Abby Ford and Olivia Topple

Soon after opening they were serving customers enjoying breakfast or catching up on emails over a coffee.

But Olivia said she expected the day to be a quiet one.

"We usually have a lot of rail passengers calling in for takeaway drinks, particularly first thing," she said.

"Of course we will not have those today."

John 'Woxey' Grenville of Station Taxis

Drivers at Station Taxis who operated from the station forecourt, had no idea what sort of day to expect.

John "Woxey" Grenville, said: "We knew we wouldn't have people coming off the rails today or wanting to get to the station. However, there have been people turning up here not realising there was a strike.

"One family turned up complete with all their suitcases ready to start their holidays. They had no idea there were no trains."

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News