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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Passengers' anger over rail strike
Commuters at railway station
The stoppage affects services across the North West
Rail travellers suffered delays after train drivers started the first of a series of two-day strikes on Tuesday.

The three planned strikes had been called off, but were reinstated last week when a deal collapsed.

Services across the North West were affected, including the Manchester Airport to Cumbria, and Manchester Piccadilly to North Wales routes.

The 48-hour stoppage was due to continue until 0000 BST on Thursday.


The drivers should take the pay rise and go back to work

Andy Shaw, rail passenger
Crowds of passengers spoke of their frustration after being left waiting for buses outside Manchester's Piccadilly station.

More strikes are planned on 27 August and 10 September.

About 50 travellers were kept waiting in Manchester for an hour in which time only two buses arrived.

Charles Essiam, 22, of Sale, Greater Manchester, said he had no idea drivers were striking and found out his train to Edinburgh via Preston was cancelled.

"They need to get this sorted out right now," he said. "It's just ridiculous.

'Right to strike'

"Had I known in advance I could have made other arrangements."

Angela Quinn, who was trying to get to Blackpool for a day out with her sons had sympathy for the drivers even though she felt the offer of a 19% pay rise was quite good.

The 38-year-old, of Droylsden, Greater Manchester, said: "I suppose they have got the right to strike. It's only one day for us but it's their livelihood."

However, the mood inside the station was not so charitable, as people stared at display boards flashing "bus" next to all First Northern Western services.

'Waste of time'

Andy Shaw, 31, a video games designer from Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, said: "The drivers should take the pay rise and go back to work."

Sarah Holt, 20, who was due at Manchester Airport where she works at the Hilton Hotel, said continual strikes were "stupid".

"It's a waste of time. It causes too many problems and they do not get anywhere otherwise they would not keep striking," she said.

'Unacceptable' proposals

Talks were continuing on Tuesday to try to resolve the pay and working conditions dispute.

The drivers' union, Aslef, claims First North Western had introduced "new and unacceptable" proposals, including drivers taking responsibility for litter at stations.

The train company said the union had reneged on the deal, insisting it had not changed the agreement which would give drivers a 19% pay rise over three years.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"The strike is over pay"
See also:

06 Aug 02 | England
26 Jul 02 | England
17 Jul 02 | England
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