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Commuters and readers have their say as rail strike suspends Metro services in Sunderland

Commuters and Echo readers have been having their say as national rail strike action suspends Metro services between South Hylton and Pelaw.

By Kevin Clark
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 11:51 am

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Today, Tuesday, June 21, sees the biggest rail strike in 30 years as the RMT Union members walk out over concerns about pay and job security.

There will also be stoppages on Thursday, June 23, and Saturday, June 25. The action will cover almost all rail operational staff, including drivers, guards, signallers, catering staff and track maintenance workers.

Although Nexus Metro staff are not part of the action, the service is unable to operate along sections of track operated by National Rail – which means no trains on the Sunderland line.

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And with no extra bus services lined up, the majority of commuters appear to have decided to work from home this morning.

There were less than half a dozen people queuing at Park Lane Interchange’s stand T at 8am today for the 56 service – the only direct bus link between Sunderland city centre and Gateshead and Newcastle.

And the Boughton Street car park – the nearest to the interchange – was almost deserted.

Care home worker Ubokobong Umoren had travelled through from Newcastle and was furious about the delays.

There are no Metro services between South Hylton and Pelaw today due to industrial action

"It has caused a lot of stress,” he said.

"I normally take the Metro and it takes me 20 or 30 minutes to get here – today, it has taken two hours.

"The railway workers need to look at how they can suspend this strike – it is causing a lot of grief and stress for commuters,” said the 36-year-old.

Building inspector Eva Dwerincka said her job meant she was unable to work from home. She had only had 24 hours notice about the strike.

Ubokobong Umoren

"I only found out about it yesterday,” said Eva, 40.

"It is very confusing for me. I normally take the Metro, it’s perfect – there is no traffic and you get straight there.

"This is not good.”

Seventy-two-year-old Alan Pickering was in the middle of an extremely convoluted trip home after dropping his car off at the garage in Seaburn.

Eva Dwernicka

"I had only just booked the car in wheh I heard about the strike,” he said.

"I live at Bill Quay, so I normally jump on the Metro to Pelaw, then just walk home – it takes about 35 minutes, which is not too bad.

“But I am at a total loss with the buses, so I figured the best thing was to come here and get a bus to Jarrow – Metros are still running between there and Heworth, so I can catch one to Pelaw.

"Then I have to do the whole thing in reverse to pick the car up later.”

Alan said he sympathised with the striking workers – but not the way they had chosen to air their grievances: “I am a railway enthusiast, so I have a lot of sympathy for them – but I have no sympathy with strikes whatsoever.

"it is just one big upset.”

Boughton Street car park

Andrea McHenry was heading into Newcastle to meet a friend.

She had not been aware of the strike until she reached the Interchange: “I did not know anything about it – I am not really a news person.” she said.

"It is a bit disappointing, because it will take me longer to get there, but it’s manageable,” said Andrea, 33.

Chef Jamie Hall said he reckoned his commute would take about the same time as normal. Jamie, 36, usually takes the Metro to East Boldon then walks to work at the Grey Horse in Front Street.

"The Metro takes me about 15 minutes, then there’s another ten minutes’ walk,” he said.

"The bus will take longer but it stops right outside the pub.”

He did not begrudge rail workers the right to strike: “If you are not getting what you think you should be earning, then why not?” said Jamie.

Twenty-year-old shopworker Abir Ahmed had had to ring his boss to let him know he would be late after just missing the bus.

Abir, from Hendon, said he had not realised the Metros were suspended: “I missed the sign outside the station,” he said.

“I sat there for about ten minutes – I did not realise it was closed. My initial thought was ‘I will take the bus’ but I was too late.”

Echo readers also had plenty to say through our Facebook page.

Michael McCutcheon wrote: "Don’t forget the RMT doesn’t just represent the train drivers, the average salaries include guards and other rail workers who are on a lot less than the train drivers.

"The politics of envy leaves a bitter taste."David Johnson did not agree : "Holding the country to ransom is wrong on every count," he said, while David Potts added: "Every worker in Britain deserves to be able to go to work without being interrupted by strikers.

"The RMT is a union stuck in the 70s who are refusing to modernise their working practices to the detriment of the customers."Andrew Noble, however, said workers had a right to take action: "If people on here are adamant that some workers earn too much in comparison to their own sector, why is it they haven't organised collectively to fight for more, why is is it they haven't organised to fight collectively for pay parity with other sectors, why wasn't this an issue until the RMT decided to do something about their own lot?" he asked.

Jackie Walton claimed the union was ‘just trying to hold the country to ransom again’ and didn’t ‘give a stuff about the hardship and disruption they’ll cause to ordinary people who can’t get to their jobs or appointments’, but their was support from Henry Coyne, who wrote "Good luck with your plight, stand strong," and Neil Moss, who argued: "People need a decent workable wage or what's the point of working?"

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Alan Pickering
Andrea McHenry
Jamie Hall
Abir Ahmed is late for work after missing his bus