Train passengers face chaos on Tuesday, with just a fifth of services running and half of lines closed, due to the biggest railroad strike in a generation.
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.
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.
Services will mostly be restricted to main lines, but even these will only be open between 7:30am and 6:30pm.
Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union of Rede Ferroviária and 13 train operators will leave on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Operators not involved in the industrial action will still experience interruptions due to the Network Rail flags strike.
London Underground workers will also leave on Tuesday.
Unions reacted with fury to reports that the Labor Party had banned its leaders from picket lines, in a leaked memo to Politics Home.
Sharon Graham, Secretary General of Unite, told the PA news agency: “The Labor Party was founded by the unions and we expect Labor MPs to stand up for workers, with word and deed.”
This week’s strikes will cause travel misery for millions.
Students and parents are being urged to make an alternate plan to arrive at school for the A-Level and GCSE exams on Tuesday and Thursday.
Now is the time to come to a sensible compromise
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Drivers are alerted to 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 before a cabinet meeting on Tuesday 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.
Of course, the Conservative government, after cutting £4bn of funding from National Rail and Transport to London, has now actively prevented a settlement to this dispute.
Mick Lynch, RMT
“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 said Network Rail offered a 2% salary increase with the possibility of a further 1% later, depending on efficiency savings.
He told BBC Newsnight that Network Rail had “escalated” the dispute during Monday’s negotiations, saying: “They sent me a letter saying there will be redundancies from 1 July.
“So instead of trying to settle this dispute, they escalated it, giving us a formal notice of redundancy among our Network Rail members.”
He warned that the dispute could continue for months, adding: “It is clear that the Conservative government, after cutting £4bn of funding from National Rail and Transport to London, has now actively prevented a solution to this dispute.
“Railway companies have now proposed pay rates that are far below the relevant rates of inflation, in addition to the wage freezes of recent years.
“At the request of the government, companies are also trying to implement thousands of job cuts and have not given any guarantees against compulsory layoffs.”
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.