Furious rail passengers were forced to stand for up to four hours on packed trains as engineering works and strike action caused mayhem across the network.
Travelers told the they had “spent a fortune to be treated like dirt” on delayed trains with broken toilets, and that they were made to feel like cattle.
One woman said her husband had boarded an Avanti train from London to Edinburgh but on arrival at Carlisle, they were told the train would no longer be heading to Edinburgh but Glasgow instead. “My husband couldn’t find any Avanti staff to speak to; it felt as if they were hiding from passengers. It’s all down to the strikesineptitude and greed,” she said.
CrossCountry services were extremely busy while passengers on Avanti services had to take rail replacement buses, which then became stuck in traffic.
Strike action by the TSSA union means no trains are running on West Midlands Railway routes today and Thursday. London Northwestern Railways and Great Western Railway services are also very limited on these days due to the walkouts.
TSSA staff work in roles including customer service management, driver management, customer communications and timetabling.
Key rail routes from northern cities, including Liverpool and Manchester, into London were severely disrupted as engineering works continued. CrossCountry trains running north of Banbury, near Oxford, and between Reading and Manchester were extremely busy for a second day due to the knock-on impact from the strike action and engineering works on other routes.
Matt Epsley, 49, school business manager, said he felt passengers were “treated like dirt”. He was traveling from Reading to Settle in Yorkshire for a family get togetherbut he had to stand for nearly four hours because it was so packed.
Furthermore, because the train was late, he missed his connections from Birmingham to Leeds and then to Settle. He said CrossCountry had not responded to him with an apology, and described the service as “abysmal”.
One rail passenger on an Avanti West Coast service said: “They are charlatans. I spend a lot of my hard-earned money and I work so hard, their service and their payback is essentially appalling service, especially as we are in this cost of living crisis.”
Jake Walker, 29, an insurance broker and social media manager from London, spent five hours traveling from the capital to Wigan, via four changes. “And that’s without getting to Euston and getting home from Liverpool,” he said. “All in all I was looking at an eight-hour journey and because of this, I changed my train to Wigan.”
He added: “Today I’m absolutely disgusted with all aspects of national rail; there’s been so many issues when I got to Rugby. There was no mention of rail replacement coaches as part of the journey so when we were told it was a coach, I was startled.
“We all got on the coach and due to confusion and lack of signs or wardens, the coach left later than scheduled. This was worsened when the coach was unable to lift a wheelchair user on as planned.
“I’m furious and really fed up because the greedy b******s have affected me and my travel now fives times this year. I’ve missed one of my best friend’s 30th birthday last month due to their greed and the money they make, that we pay, is abhorrent.”
Richard Reid, 40, a lawyer from London told the: “I am trying to get back to London from Stockport today. When I arrived at Milton Keynes at 12:45pm I was turned away even though the train hadn’t left yet and that’s really frustrating.
“I took a day off work so can manage but I am definitely reaching the end of my tether – I want to visit my family, but the poor service makes it so difficult to plan, and so unreliable, and is so expensive for what it is, it starts to make you think twice.”
Dr Eloise Moss, 36 from Macclesfield, a lecturer at the University of Manchester, was trying to get to Heathrow Airport for a flight. Moss and her fiancé boarded the 11:47 Great Western Railway service from Macclesfield to Oxford.
“It was packed at every door, an elderly lady was pushed against the door and we were pretty disgusted when we saw the First Class carriage empty. They were packing in people like cattle, I was enraged,” she said.