Trains update: Cab fares dry up as rail strike goes on

VACANT taxis waited in vain outside Ipswich railway station today as rail workers again staged walk-outs over a pay dispute.

VACANT taxis waited in vain outside Ipswich railway station today as rail workers again staged walk-outs over a pay dispute.

Services on National Express East Anglia were reduced to a bare minimum for the second week running as union members began another 48-hour strike.

Meanwhile cab drivers have been forced to stop their meters and wait out the ongoing pay row between National Express and transport unions Aslef and The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT).

One cabbie sat behind the wheel perfecting his guitar skills, having sat outside the station for much of the day waiting for a fare.


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Darren Alford said: “I can suffer quite badly If I don't get a little bit off luck and catch people as they come off the platform.

“Last week I was easily a third down on my usual takings but I'm getting plenty of guitar practice!”

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Despite the lack of business, Mr Alford says he and many of his fellow cabbies are behind the striking rail workers.

“I don't begrudge them,” he said. “They have the right to protest.

“We have been on strike before and we hoped that people understood and supported us.”

Mr Alford admitted some of his fares have been less sympathetic to the picketers' cause, saying: “Some customers have said it's a brain-dead idea but they're not the ones losing money.”

National Express today said that Aslef was seeking a minimum pay increase of �1,000 a year for drivers, having claimed previously that the unions were seeking a 2.5 percent pay increase, a four-day working week and a 4pc increase in the number of train drivers.

Andrew Chivers, managing director of National Express East Anglia, said: “We believe the pay claims continue to be wholly unrealistic and that continuing strike action is inappropriate and unnecessary.”

Yesterday RMT said it expected its members to “solidly support” the walk-out, which is set to last until midnight on Saturday.

The unions have also planned industrial action on August 13 and 14, and August 21 and 22, and will be joined by the Transport Salaried Staff Association on those dates unless an agreement is reached.

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