Passengers suffer as train strike hits

SCARBOROUGH Railway Station was deserted yesterday as strike action brought rail services to a halt.

Drivers for First TransPennine Express took part in the first of two 24-hour walkouts after eleventh hour talks between the company and drivers union ASLEF broke down.

The station was unrecognisable during the morning rush-hour period, as commuters had to find alternative ways of getting to work.

Hourly coaches to York were also put on throughout the day to enable passengers on longer journeys to catch their connecting trains.

However, despite still being able to make their connections, the action was still causing headaches for several passengers.

Merryl Cookson, 73, had been visiting the town and was hoping to return home to Blackpool. However, the strike has been a disappointing finale to her trip to Scarborough.

She said: “The whole thing has put a spanner in the works for me.

“Now that I’ve got to spend nearly two hours on the coach, it’s turned a long journey into an even longer one. I don’t know when I’ll get home.”

And it isn’t just passengers who have been affected, as the strike has lead to “substantial” drop in business for taxi drivers.

A driver for Karma Taxis said: “It’s terrible, business is definitely down simply because there’s no arrivals coming in to the station.

“It’s also slowing us down when we do get a job, because all of the extra traffic is causing jams. It’s taking about 45 minutes to drive five miles.”

However, ASLEF members on the picket line at the station said they have the backing of the public.

One striker, who did not wish to giveh is name, said: “We’ve had lots of people coming up to us and saying that they support us, which is definitely pleasing.”

The strike has been brought about by the rail network’s refusal to meet union demands over a pay rise for staff, after it rejected an initial sub-inflation raise of 2.2 per cent.

And the strikers said their demands are reasonable.

A second 24-hour strike is planned for tomorrow – the start of the bank holiday weekend.

Thousands of people are expected to travel to the Leeds music festival and Manchester Pride.

A replacement bus service from Scarborough station to York will again replace all trains.

Despite First TransPennine Express cancelling all trains going in and out of Scarborough tomorrow, the station is still open, as Northern Rail are still running its service between Scarborough and Hull. The ticket office is also open for business.