Striking rail workers have formed picket lines at railway stations across the North East as they walk out in a row over pay and conditions.

At Darlington station around 20 workers and trade unionists joined the picket for the first of three days’ strike action set to cause chaos across the railway network all week.

They told The Northern Echo they have been getting ‘lots of support’ from passers-by so far with many motorists sounding their horns in solidarity and a greater turnout than expected.

The station was eerily quiet on Tuesday (June 21) morning despite some services still running.

Read more: Rail strikes: Kate Osborne defies Labour bosses picket ban

Alan Docherty, Secretary of the Darlington Trade Union Council, told The Northern Echo: “There will be people who have their journeys disrupted but the point of any strike action is to put pressure on from the workers and this is the only way we can do that.

“Prices are continuing to increase with inflation and those at the bottom are being told that they have to fork out extra when their wages aren’t increasing.

“With inflation going up railway workers need to keep pressure on government and employers as they are being offered pay rises below inflation, and we support them in that action.”

Cllr Samantha Townsend, Labour Councillor for Shildon and Dene Valley, who had joined the picket line in support said: “The government need to get around the table, stop playing politics and games, and be productive. They say it isn’t their place to get involved but they’re the government, they run the country and they can get involved if they want to.”

Read more: Rail strikes: North East MPs react ahead of week-long strike

Only a fifth of normal train services are running across the country with motorists told to expect surging traffic levels as rail passengers switch to the roads.

Picket lines also formed at Newcastle where North of Tyne Labour Mayor Jamie Driscoll joined around 25 people on Tuesday morning.

He told the PA news agency: "What I want to see is Britain be a high-wage economy with good public services, which is exactly what the RMT is fighting for.

The Northern Echo: Disruption is expected all week. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTDisruption is expected all week. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

"When it gets to the point where people are giving up their pay to fight for industry, something's already gone wrong.

"I sit on the Rail North committee and on Transport for the North and we have been warning ministers for two years that the system is creaking - they should have acted.

"If you want Britain to be a modern, high-wage economy with world-leading services, you've got to fund it.

"The fact that the Government hasn't come to the table despite the fact this has been brewing for years is the problem."


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