The National Rail Inquiry website has crashed as passengers try to find out which services are running in the midst of the biggest rail dispute in years. Passengers attempting to use the service to find out which trains are running during a rail strike receive a message: “Internal Server Error 500”.
Chiltern Railway, which operates services to and from London Marylebone, also apologized that its website had also been blocked. And in other travel headaches for commuters, signal failures between London Euston and Rugby, and London Paddington and Heathrow on Monday night added to the chaos as the strike approached.
A normally busy London Euston station was almost deserted on Tuesday morning, with only a small fraction of the usual crowd of passengers in attendance. A small number of more than two dozen people waited for trains during the typically overcrowded times. On Birmingham New Street, the station was quieter than the usual hustle and bustle of Tuesday morning, and commuters decided to work from home or find other ways to get to their offices.
At the platforms, the next first train to London was served at 7.34 pm for Northampton, but all passengers managed to secure seats. The train stewards also helped people plan other trips.
RMT union pickets, which were out since around 6 am, were posted outside the city’s major concrete signal boxes at all main entrances to Birmingham New Street station, as well as in nearby Navigation Street. Although none of the people sitting on the dharna were allowed to talk to the media, there was an atmosphere of enthusiasm among the members.
There was some clear support from the public, with a handful of drivers honking their horns, but the majority of those driving to work in the city glanced at the bus picket lines before continuing. Only 20% of services are expected to operate today, the first of three strikes scheduled for this week.
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