Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thousands Wrestle with Nightmare Journey as Strike Shuts Liverpool St

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thousands Wrestle with Nightmare Journey as Strike Shuts Liverpool St

Article excerpt

Byline: Dick Murray and Rashiq Razaq

LONDON commuter rail lines were brought to a near-standstill today by the start of a 48-hour strike.

National Express East Anglia services to and from Liverpool Street station were crippled with just a skeleton service for its thousands of passengers.

More than 150,000 passengers faced major disruption, with many taking hours longer to get to work and some giving up and going home.

The regular timetable was scrapped and replaced with an emergency hourly service to London from Colchester and Southend Victoria.

The Stansted Express also ran once an hour instead of every 15 minutes and there was a "small number" of peak trains on the Norwich to London route. All were "very crowded".

Other routes from the east run by different operators, including the East Coast main line, c2c and First Capital Connect, suffered worse overcrowding than usual as commuters tried other routes into London.

Union bosses, who ordered the strike in a long-running row over pay and working conditions, said the action had been "solidly supported". Pickets, including RMT leader Bob Crow, were on duty at the main stations, including Liverpool Street, and train depots.

Three further 48-hour stoppages are scheduled for consecutive Thursdays and Fridays in August and the unions have refused to rule out more.

The industry's two most powerful unions, Aslef and the RMT, combined forces to bring virtually the entire franchise to its knees.

Mr Crow, at the picket line at Liverpool Street, said: "The strike has been solidly supported across the franchise. The vast majority of services are completely shut down. Company managers are running a token ghost service on a handful of lines as a publicity stunt."

He added: "Every single line is running with a serious delay. We're avail-abltoday. We're calling on the company to get around the table. …

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