Commuter AGONY as rail network falters on supposed ‘strike-free’ day

Passengers were warned that only 60 per cent of the 20,000 normal weekday services would operate yesterday after the nightmare of Tuesday’s strike.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, warned: “Please do not assume that this is a normal day and bring a bottle of water with you.”

At rush hour, in the summer heat, furious commuters found themselves still locked out of some stations, especially in the capital – while some services took up to four hours to get going.

Trains normally leave depots from about 3am so services can begin around 5am, but the process only began when signallers on daytime shifts started at 6am yesterday as a result of walkouts.

Seven London Underground stations were still shut 90 minutes after they were supposed to reopen at 8am, due to “unavailability of staff”.

There were severe delays or suspended services on the District and Circle lines, Hammersmith and City, Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines as well.

Red-faced bosses at South Western Railway meanwhile issued an apology “for the challenges some customers experienced on our first services this morning”, blaming Tuesday’s strike action.

As the day wore on, Network Rail admitted that “even during the day the service will stay thinner” than usual and some operators would wind down services earlier in readiness for today’s rail strike.

Many snubbed the rail network completely as a result of the madness – with traffic congestion on London’s roads building to 95 per cent in the morning, according to TomTom data.

This was a huge increase on the 71 per cent level recorded at the same time on Wednesday last week.

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