About 200 train drivers from Midland Mainline have staged a 24-hour strike in a dispute over pensions.
Only a handful of Midland Mainline trains were left running
No trains were scheduled from Leeds, Wakefield, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham and Luton on the first of six planned strike days.
Just five trains will run between London and Derby on six Thursdays between 25 October and 29 November.
Midland Mainline said it was disappointed by the action and that services would be limited.
Spokeswoman Debbie Mather said five trains would run from Derby to London on Thursday, but none between 0730 and 1330 BST.
Five trains would also run from St Pancras in London to Derby, but not between 1000 and 1600 BST, she said.
Midland Mainline said it would give refunds to passengers who decided not to travel because of the disruption caused by the walkout.
Union Aslef said the row centred on disagreements over pension provisions following a pay deal agreed in 2001.
It said its members would go ahead with the industrial action after attempts to end the deadlock had failed.
Mick Whelan, from the union, said: "Unfortunately we have been in discussions with the company for a long time over this and this is our last resort really.
"We deeply empathise with the travelling public and we're sorry for any inconvenience caused."
But Ms Mather said the union had gone back on a deal that had already been agreed.
She said: "The truth of the matter is that Aslef are going on strike in relation to a pay deal that was signed by us and by them six years ago... it has been signed, they agreed it and it's been in place for six years."