A major online train travel planner has stopped working because services are paralyzed due to the biggest rail strike in a generation.
Passengers who tried to use the National Rail Inquiries website for about half an hour this morning received a message stating “500 Internal Server Error”.
The cause of the problem was unclear, but it could be due to an increase in demand.
Only a fifth of the trains are running on Tuesday and half of the lines are closed, as around 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union in Rede Ferroviária and 13 train operators have left.
Services are generally restricted to main lines, but even these are only open between 7:30am and 6:30pm.
Usually busy stations like London Euston were almost deserted except for union picket lines.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast there will be meetings of the Cobra emergency committee on the railway strikes this week.
He said he does not meet with unions, as he described requests to join them around the negotiating table as a “coup”.
He continued, “I don’t normally meet them because it’s a red herring.
“If I thought there was a one in a million chance it would make a little difference, of course I would do it at the drop of a hat.”
Speaking to Sky News, the minister said the government will introduce new laws to minimize disruption to industrial action, requiring a certain level of service to be performed and allowing the use of temporary workers.
Much of Britain will not have passenger trains all day, including most of Scotland and Wales, all of Cornwall and Dorset and places like Chester, Hull, Lincoln and Worcester.
Last-minute negotiations have not resolved the bitter dispute over wages, jobs and conditions, with all sides blaming each other for the lack of progress.
Strikes are also planned for Thursday and Saturday.
London Underground services are also suspended on the vast majority of lines today due to a worker stoppage.
This week’s strikes will cause travel misery for millions.
At Birmingham New Street station, some would-be commuters and commuters were trying to work out their travel plans, looking at the timetables on their phones and the departure board in the main concourse.
Carol Hutchinson, who is returning to the Lake District after getting off a six-hour flight from Egypt, landed in the UK to find her direct train from Birmingham International Station cancelled.
Having gone to New Street, she was waiting to board, with her luggage, what appeared to be one of the few trains still running.
“I think it’s just going to stand… I’m not even sure I’m going to keep my suitcase,” she said.
Master’s student in plant pathology Munjabordrain Dopl was one of the few travelers at Newcastle Central Station.
He said his research was interrupted by the need to catch an early train to Manchester airport before flying to Cameroon to attend his father’s memorial service.
“It’s really getting to me,” he told the PA news agency.
“In a lab you have to respect the timetable, and I should be in the lab now and catch the train at 1 pm.
“Because of that, I had to abandon my research and catch an early train.”
Dozens of people joined the first train to London from Maidenhead station in Berkshire, a popular commute town, at 7:40am.
But other platforms were empty, with only one train running every half hour to the capital on the Elizabeth Line route.
Students and parents are being urged to make an alternative plan to get to school for the A-level and GCSE exams.
Drivers have been warned to expect an increase in traffic as train passengers switch to road transport.
The AA predicted that the most affected roads are likely to be major highway arteries, as well as rural and suburban areas.
About half of the Great Western Railway trains that were supposed to serve Castle Cary in Somerset, carrying revelers to the Glastonbury Festival between Wednesday and Friday, were cancelled.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to say ahead of a Cabinet meeting that unions are “harming the very people they claim to be helping”.
He is expected to accuse unions of “turning away passengers who ultimately support rail workers’ jobs”, while also hitting companies across the country.
He will say: “Very high payment requirements will also make it incredibly difficult to end the current challenges facing families around the world with the rising cost of living.
“Now is the time to come to a sensible compromise for the good of the British people and the railway workforce.”
RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch warned that the dispute could continue for months, adding: “It is clear that the Conservative government, after cutting £4bn of funding from the National Rail and Transport for London, has now actively prevented a solution. for this dispute. ”
The Department for Transport disputed Lynch’s clams, adding that it cost taxpayers around £600 per family to keep the railway running during the coronavirus pandemic.