Anger as rail strikes disrupt funerals and autistic man’s first day at work

Elizabeth Bolton said her 23-year-old son, Jack, was ‘very distressed’ after missing his first day at a job.

27 July 2022

Ongoing strike action has continued to disrupt the lives of passengers across the UK, as one woman set to miss her uncle’s funeral said the situation has left her feeling “less of a part of my family”.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 14 train operators took industrial action on Wednesday in a row over jobs, pay and conditions.

Travellers described being “angry” and “distressed” as an autistic man missed his first day at a new job and one woman was forced to watch her uncle’s funeral remotely.

Elizabeth Bolton, from Ascot, Berkshire, is a full-time carer and said her 23-year-old son, Jack, was left feeling “distressed” after being unable to get a train from Staines to London for his first shift at a pharmacy company.

Rail strikes
Railway stations were much quieter than normal as only a handful of services ran across the UK (PA)

“I’m angry to be honest. I’m angry that other people’s actions can affect innocent people,” the 51-year-old told the PA news agency.

“He lives on his own, so I had sorted out the tickets and times etc for him – with autism he needs to have plans made.”

“My son is upset and doesn’t understand why they’re striking… He was nervous about a new job, so I had spent weeks preparing him, but never thought about the trains.

“He was very distressed.”

Ms Bolton added that while Jack’s boss has been “OK” about the situation, she believes those who are striking are “selfish”.

“I personally think they’re are selfish, although I understand their frustration,” she said.

“It’s selfish not to think about other people. There has to be another way to have their say.

“I understand that people are struggling with the cost of living, but we all are.

“There’s so many strikes planned and it’s not fair that so many will be effected. Not everyone drives or can change plans.”

She plans to pay to get Jack a taxi to London on Thursday and will have to explain to him why.

Jen, from Havant, Hampshire, who did not want her last name published, said she was meant to travel from Portsmouth to Spalding in Lincolnshire for the funeral on Wednesday.

“I feel like I’m not doing my duty as a family member, but I don’t have any control over the situation,” the 42-year-old told the PA news agency.

“I just feel further disconnected from my family now, like I’m less of a part of my family.

“I would also like a pay rise in line with inflation but in reality that won’t happen. I don’t choose to mess around with people’s lives because of it.

“And it angers me when they say, ‘Oh, just work from home’ or ‘Just travel on a different day’ because people don’t only travel for trivial reasons. I won’t get this day back.”

She added that the country’s transport options have become “terrible”.

Only a fifth of services will run on Wednesday on around half of the network, so passengers are being urged to only travel by train if they must, and if it is necessary, allow extra time and check when their last train will depart.

Members of the drivers’ union Aslef will strike on Saturday in a number of companies.

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