Even though the latest rail strike threatened to disrupt their travel plans, a number of York passengers expressed support for the staff who had walked out today.
A picket line, made up of striking members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and their families, gathered outside York Station this morning with banners, flags, flyers, badges and optimism.
The strike means only around one in five trains were due to run on around half the network, with Selby and Malton stations both closed completely.
Although one passerby was heard describing the strikers as ‘selfish’, the general public response appeared positive, as pedestrians and passing vehicles showed support for the picket line.
Inside a York Station noticeably quieter than usual, staff were out in force ready to help customers with concerns or journey amendments.
One family on their way to London King’s Cross described being “kept well informed by LNER” regarding the reduced timing of southbound trains.
They were keen to show support for the strikers outside, highlighting “when it comes to wages I think everyone is hurting at the moment”.
“They’ve just got to be a bit careful and make sure that they don’t ask for too much,” one said.
Another couple complained of unresolved issues. “Our train was delayed 20 minutes yesterday and our one tomorrow is cancelled,” they said.
Their friends, however, experienced a relatively hassle-free process rebooking their cancelled train, and were delighted when their new journey arrived “a bit earlier than the original”.
Despite the disruptions, they were supportive of the strike.
“It does cause disruption, but it’s important. If you can listen to their side you understand what they’re trying to do,” one of the friends said.
She elaborated: “Doing away with all the staff on trains, and putting up retirement age is all wrong. They need staff on trains for emergencies.”
Her companion added: “From a health and safety aspect, if there’s only a driver on board he’s oblivious to what’s going on on the train.”
A group traveling from York to Edinburgh said they felt lucky that their journey home had survived despite the strike today.
One woman in the party said: “I know it is a limited service. As far as we know the train is going on time. There isn’t any chaos or anything so we just have to wait and see.”
Two American tourists described chaotic scenes in London as they left for York to meet friends.
“There was quite a bustle at King’s Cross, everyone wanted on to the train. So we ran like crazy and made it here,” the woman said.
Her partner added: “We were a little worried, but the train ran on time, only a few minutes’ late.”
“We’re in a teachers union,” he said, “so we totally get that sometimes you have to have a strike to make things work.”
A pair of Canadians also experienced busy trains and ticket anxiety. After taking a packed service from Glagow to York, they came to the station this morning to confirm that their advanced return tickets to London could still work.
Despite the possibility of long journeys and a loss of pre-paid tickets, the friends remained upbeat.
“The people were very helpful here,” said one, and her friend added with a smile: “We’re disappointed that our train’s a little bit mixed up – but we’re even more disappointed that Starbucks was closed.”