RAIL STRIKES: Only travel if ‘absolutely essential’ warn Oxfordshire’s operators

The county’s rail operators have warned customers to only travel if ‘absolutely essential’ as the largest rail strike in a generation gets underway.

Around 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators walked out on Tuesday in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

In Oxfordshire, Great Western Railway (GWR), Chiltern and Cross Country services were reduced or cancelled.

READ MORE: Rail strikes day one: How Oxford is being interested

Oxford’s usually busy rail station was left empty amid the strikes

GWR told customers to only travel if ‘necessary’ while Chiltern warned rail users to ‘only travel if absolutely essential’ throughout the week.

The strikes, which will also take place on Thursday (June 23) and Saturday (June 25), meant the final trains to leave Oxford for the day were at just 5.36pm on Tuesday.

Across the country, only a fifth of trains ran and half of all lines were closed.

At Oxford Railway station, a member of staff at AMT Coffee said they had only taken £209 in the till by lunchtime on the first strike day, with the business usually taking £1,000 in a normal week.

Oxford Mail: People are being warned to only travel if they absolutely have to People are being warned to only travel if they absolutely have to

On Twitter, Oxford city councillors expressed their support for the striking rail staff.

Labor councillor Shaista Aziz, who represents Rose Hill and Iffley, represents Labor to work with unions to uphold worker rights.

She wrote: “Unionised workers are being treated with contempt by a government that has no interest in negotiating fair pay deal for workers. @UKLabour must work with @RMTunion @The_TUC to ensure workers rights to strike and democratic union rights are upheld and protected. #trainstrike”

Fellow Labor councillor Paula Dunne, who represents Cowley, joined rail workers on the picket line outside Oxford Railway Station.

Speaking with BBC Oxford yesterday morning, she said: “Obviously, it is meant to impact everyone. If it is not disruptive it is not doing its job.

“Those on the picket line today aren’t doing it because they are trying to be a nuisance to people, it is more they are trying to fight for their worker rights.

“That is the most important thing for workers to show solidarity and show that if you do not stand up for your rights it is going to get worse and worse.

“We are in a cost of living crisis, we need to stand up to the big corporations.

On the strikes, RMT general-secretary Mick Lynch said the turn out on the picket line was “fantastic” and “exceeded expectations”.

Oxford Mail: The strike action will happen on Thursday and Saturday tooThe strike action will happen on Thursday and Saturday too

He said: “RMT members are leading the way for all workers in this country who are sick and tired of having their pay and conditions slashed by a mixture of big business profits and Government policy.

“Now is the time to stand up and fight for every single railway worker in this dispute that we will win.”

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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