COMMUTERS are preparing for further railway disruption after the most significant train strike for the last three decades got underway yesterday.

Members of the National Union of Rail, Martime and Transport Workers will pick-up where they left off tomorrow before joining picket lines once again on Saturday.

As a result of the strikes, taking place in protest of everything from job cuts to pay, Greater Anglia, and operators across the country, have cancelled many services.

Similar to Tuesday, the Colchester to London Liverpool Street train will be one of the few still running but no trains will depart Colchester Town Station.

Halstead Gazette:

There will also be no services in operation at smaller stations near Colchester such as Marks Tey, Braintree, Witham, Harwich, Manningtree, and Clacton.

The continued strikes come after failed crunch talks were held between RMT Union bosses and the likes of Network Rail and Government officials.

A spokesman for the union said: “Despite the best efforts of our negotiators no viable settlements to the disputes have been created.

“In the face of this massive attack on our people the RMT cannot be passive and we call on our members to demonstrate their willingness to fight for workplace justice.

“We call on the entire labour movement and the working people to rally to the support of the RMT and our members in this struggle.”

On Tuesday, the eerily-empty platforms at Colchester North Station suggested many had opted to use alternative transport methods or had decided to work from home.

Halstead Gazette:

David McGeown, from Colchester, gets the train from North Station to Manningtree, before cycling to Holbrook for work on a daily basis.

He said: “I do not support the strike or what they are doing or the motivation behind it and I do not agree with it.

“I think it is a very selfish thing for people to do considering how much it has impacted on everybody else.

“For me, I am just going to work and I can afford to miss a day but fortunately my work place has organised transport for me.

“So, for me it is not the end of the world but it is for a lot of other people and I think there is a lot of other people who deserve more help.

“I think the money these guys are demanding could be put to better use – they have at least got jobs.

“I know it is tough, but there are so many people out there who need and deserve more help and I think this demand is selfish.”

Halstead Gazette:

Small business owner Jack Titchard has run the Roo coffee shop at Colchester North Station for the last three months.

He said: “A lot of these people striking have been lifetime employees and have been paying into their pensions for 40 years.

“Everyone is panicking because of the cost of living crisis and I completely get that and sympathise with that.

“Ultimately I do side with those who work on the frontline here because they help everything run smoothly.

“But, for me, as a small business owner, selfishly, it has been shocking and today I have sold two coffees and it has really affected me but it is what it is.

“On a positive side it has given me a chance to tidy up and catch up with some admin and you have to take the rough with the smooth – but it is going to be tough.”

As well as commuters, the strikes have also been impacting taxi drivers at Colchester North Station, who were yesterday left waiting hours for a single customer.

Halstead Gazette:

Henry, Paul and Lorence, however, believe the strike will not impact them half as much as the coronavirus pandemic did.

Since the beginning of the crisis, they say work has dried up due to less people using trains and more residents working from home.

Paul said: “A week of this is nothing compared to what we have gone through with the pandemic.

“But during Covid, when there were basically no trains running, there was still 40-odd train station workers standing around on the platforms doing nothing.

“We have always been told we pay stupid amounts of money because of how many people travel from here.

“Well, people are not travelling from this station anymore and they haven’t done for the last three years so how can they expect us to pay the same amount of money?”

Speaking on Tuesday morning, Henry added: “We have had one job out of here since 6am and we have not moved - we are paying a £1,300 fee per year to just sit here.

“The car park is three quarters empty and the bike racks used to be solid but look at it now - even on a busy day in the car park it is not even remotely half full.

“We are losing out and there are some days here where we are not even earning the minimum wage but the train drivers are getting very well paid.”

Lorence, however, believes it is wrong to begrudge the railway workers taking part in the strike, but would like to pay a smaller fee to be positioned outside the station.

“It is wrong for us to bring the train drivers down because we are earning less than them,” he said.

“But if the number of travellers has fallen then we should get a discount as well.”

The Gazette did attempt to speak to the union's members who were at Colchester North Station on Tuesday but they instead asked us to direct any questions to the union's press office.