To the wrath of rail passengers across the UK, the resumption of train services after a four-day Christmas strike has turned into shambles in many places.
In London’s Paddington, the hub of West England and South Wales, thousands of travelers who wanted to get home after the Christmas holidays turned up to board the non-existent train.
The first wave of departures to Cardiff, Oxford, Bristol and Plymouth were wiped out by an overrun of engineering work at the Arctic base near Paddington.
Adrian Bevan was returning from Paddington to Newton Abbott in Devon. “My train is already nearly two hours late,” he told The Independent.
“All I want to do is take the train, drink Thatcher and be happy.”
Two American tourists were last seen booking a car to the Paddington exit and going to the Moreton-in-Marsh spa hotel in the Cotswolds for £320. “The treatment has already been paid for and will start at 1 p.m.,” they said.
“I’ve been here since 7am,” said Tom Davies, who hoped to get home to Swansea in time for work at 2pm.
“Not much interaction.
The first train left just before 11:00 am, at least 97 minutes behind the scheduled start of service.
A Great Western Railway (GWR) spokesperson said:
“We expect delays to decrease over the next few hours, but some routes may continue to experience disruption throughout the day.”
There were far fewer trains in the morning and passengers were left standing at stations such as Reading, Swindon and Stroud due to extreme overcrowding. At Reading, travelers wishing to catch a direct train to London Paddington were directed to the much slower All-Elizabeth Line.
Elsewhere in the UK, similar scenes played out after a four-day strike by members of the RMT union working for Network Rail.
Private operator Lumo consolidated the first two departures from Edinburgh to London after delays in train travel from the depot.
When the vehicle was finally ready, Lumo tweeted: We kindly ask our customers not to bring these issues to our train team. It’s not their fault. ”
Passengers with tickets to board at Newcastle were urged to board other trains and have their fares refunded.
Connections between London and Gatwick did not resume until the afternoon, when a signal failure delayed service and the first train from London Bridge arrived 35 minutes late. The main Gatwick Express Link from Victoria is closed for construction.
Many stations will remain closed until the end of the year due to overtime bans imposed by members of the RMT union.
The South Western Railway, which runs from London Waterloo, has told passengers ‘we recommend that you only travel if absolutely necessary’.
The rail company is running a significantly reduced service on the main line to Woking, Winchester and Weymouth, as well as the Windsor line.
Many stations have been offline as they attempt to run reduced service on major routes for the rest of the year.
Twenty stations have no trains in sight at all, and a further 13 stations have no service scheduled to stop.
Chiltern Railways has decommissioned the entire Midland network through January 9th.