Travel plans disrupted in UK as strikes bring transport to halt

At Central London railway terminus Paddington on Friday, transport disruption was a headache for Jacob, a passenger from Colchester in southeast England. He was scheduled to travel on Saturday but had to make it one day earlier because of ongoing strikes.

“It’s really inconvenient,” he told Xinhua. “It means that people can’t travel. People can’t get to work or holiday or whatever they’re doing. It’s disruptive to everyone.”

This summer, when many Britons opted for a getaway and transport hubs across the United Kingdom (UK) were already under pressure, another series of strikes threw public transport into further chaos this week.

More than 50,000 workers from railway, tube and bus networks went on strike over pay and working conditions from Thursday well into the weekend. Passengers are suggested only to travel by train if necessary.

At Paddington, Carlie, a passenger from London, told Xinhua on Friday that her travel destination was the coastal city Swansea in Wales, but now with “a few delays, maybe a few cancellations,” she said, “fingers crossed we will make it there.”

As COVID-19 seemed to have been out of headlines and travel restrictions removed, this summer holiday would have been craved by many.

“I think this is the first summer that people were trying to get to places. So it’s not the nicest for people who want to go on holiday and things like that,” she added. “But it is what it is, not a lot we can do about it.”

This week’s strikes come as the latest moves of walkouts this summer. Unions covering the transport sector have been calling for substantial pay rises as record-high inflation has eaten into the value of wages at a record pace.

Inflation in the UK hit a 40-year high of 10.1 percent in July. The country’s central bank has warned that inflation would reach 13 percent this year. Amid surging prices, real pay among UK employees from April to June this year fell at the fastest pace in more than two decades.

Across the transport network, union members were now more determined than ever to protect their pensions, secure a decent pay rise, job security and good working conditions, said Mick Lynch, general secretary at the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, which mainly staged the walkouts.

Julie, a passenger from Belfast in Northern Ireland, expressed solidarity on Friday for the workers. At Paddington, she told Xinhua that her train had been canceled to the tourist destination Devon in southwest England, but another train still had seats for her.

These strikes, nevertheless, are “a bit inconvenient for holiday makers and things, especially people that have come from far away and stuff,” she said.

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