‘Despite delays, it was still possible to travel into London Bridge’: Taking the train on national rail strike day

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

Travellers steered clear of East Croydon railway station on Tuesday morning, which marked the first day of the biggest rail strikes in 30 years.

The RMT, which represents rail workers, is calling for a pay rise of at least seven per cent.

The union said workers have only been offered a two per cent rise with the possibility of one per cent more, on the condition that workers accept proposed job cuts and changes to working practices.

The trains were empty and one commuter said she had often been left stranded by the regular service on non-strike days, but didn’t face any problems on Tuesday.

Despite delays, it was still possible to travel into London Bridge, with a handful of trains running up until around 6pm.

I headed down to the station, which is the busiest in the capital outside Zone 1, and it was noticably quieter, with just a few trains on the board.

A quick look on CityMapper showed all the morning trains to the central London station were delayed by between five and 10 minutes.

Heading for the 10.17 Thameslink service, I could already see it was listed as delayed on the departures board. It pulled into East Croydon railway station 14 minutes late, but from there the journey was very smooth.

In a totally empty carriage we zoomed up to London Bridge, arriving just 17 minutes later, this is the usual length of this journey.

The way back to East Croydon felt even quieter, with very few passengers boarding the 10.46am service to Gatwick via Redhill from platform 13.

The expected time, which first showed 10.52am, kept being pushed back. Just when I was about to make a dash for the other East Croydon train, scheduled for 11.05am, it left from London Bridge, 10 minutes late.

This journey was longer than the way there after the train was held at a red signal just past Norwood Junction, but it pulled into Croydon at 11.19am, meaning it took 21 minutes.

On the train was Shyaine Winston, 23, who got on at Norwood Junction, who said the station was much quieter than usual.

Ironically, she said she has faced much worse services on non-strike days. But the care worker was worried she may be stuck on the way home.

The rail strikes this week are the biggest in 30 years as workers walk out at National Rail and 13 other operators.

Another strike will take place on Thursday and a third on Saturday, and a reduced train timetable will be in place until then.

Picture: An empty train on the Thameslink service from East Croydon to London Bridge (Picture: Tara O’Connor)




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