Norfolk rail strikes - latest news

Rail passengers vented their anger today as the first of a two-day strike by train drivers got underway, leaving just three trains travelling from Norwich for London this morning.

Rail passengers vented their anger today as the first of a two-day strike by train drivers got underway, leaving just three trains travelling from Norwich for London this morning.

The strikes, planned by drivers' union Aslef and the Rail Maritime Transport Union (RMT), meant only the 5.40am, 6.40am, and 7.40am services left the city for the capital.

But there was even worse news for passengers travelling locally as no rural services at all were operation from Norwich, with the same situation expected tomorrow.

One woman, who asked not to be named, was trying to get from Norwich to Cambridge for work and was furious about the disruption.

'They closed our office in Norwich and a lot of people lost their jobs while others have had pay freezes. Those of us that are left have to commute to Cambridge each day. I am very cross about the strikes, they are putting our jobs at risk,' she said.

Others were more resigned to the problems such as Richard Dell who was heading into London on the 6.40am service for business.

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'I work in London three days a week and I had to go today because I have meetings. I would normally get the 8am train and come back the same day but I am staying over night this time and coming back in the morning because I think it will be easier to get a train back,' he said.

In addition to the three services from Norwich to London Liverpool Street this morning there were three services scheduled this afternoon at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.

Return journeys were available at 8.30am, 9.30am, 10.30am, and this afternoon at 4.30pm, 5.30pm and 6.30pm.

At 6.15am there were more pickets than passengers at the station but a steady stream of people soon began arriving for the 6.40am service to London.

Peter Meades, spokesman for National Express East Anglia, said: 'Most of the services running are being staffed using managers who are trained to do different work, such as manager drivers.

'The first train at 5.40am was busier than usual from Norwich and more people would be joining as it went south.

'Obviously we have worked hard to get the message out about the number of trains running and I think those people who have got to travel are going earlier or later than normal which helps to spread out the load.'

Passengers leaving Norwich Train Station last night told of their frustration at having to change their plans because of the strikes - and in some cases their relief that they were not going to be travelling by train today or tomorrow.

Alisdair Liddle, 52, a solicitor from Norwich, said he was fortunate not to be travelling by train today and expected it to be chaos for those that were with so few services operating.

'I understand people trying to get fair working conditions and a fair wage, but question the affect it has on other people who are at work,' he said.

Matthew Arrowsmith-Brown, 58, a business coach from Norwich, said he would be driving to Cambridge today because of the strikes.

'I'm not going to risk it - I'm going to drive,' he said. 'I'm disappointed I won't be able to travel (by train). I'm sure it will cause a few problems.'

Other travel options being offered include a combination of East Midlands Trains and First Capital Connect services from Norwich to Ely then on to King's Cross.

Talks are ongoing between the unions and NXEA to try and avert further strikes but yesterday about 10 pickets were outside the station first thing.

Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, said: 'The strikes on National Express East Anglia come down to one simple fact - this is a greedy company, pumped full of public subsidies who now expect their staff to take a hit on their pay and working conditions while the top bosses fatten up their profits at the expense of the travelling public and the workforce.'