No trains and no compensation for many after strikes and a fire

Fire appliances outside Nottingham railway station which has been evacuated and services passing through the station cancelled after a fire broke out.
Fire appliances outside Nottingham railway station which has been evacuated and services passing through the station cancelled after a fire broke out.
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Overcrowding and cancellations wrought by the third rail strike in a week were compounded last night by a warning that passengers seeking compensation would find the rules “surprisingly complicated”.

Services across the north were hit yesterday when members of the RMT union walked out again in a long-running dispute over the roles of train guards.

Although Northern Rail ran more than 1,300 services without them, gaps in the timetable meant there was standing-room only in many rush-hour carriages, and fewer trains in the evening.

Passengers hoping to travel from Yorkshire to the Midlands faced further disruption when a huge blazed closed Nottingham Station for the day, affecting services as far away as Sheffield.

But many travellers expecting to be compensated for delays caused by strikes had their hopes dashed by a consumer group.

Which? said that special “strike day” timetables issued by rail companies would in many cases remove the right to refunds for trains that would normally have run.

Alex Hayman of Which? said: “Frustrated passengers who face yet more disruption to their services will be disappointed to find that their rights to compensation as a result of a strike are surprisingly complicated.”

He said travellers could only claim refunds for services that were cancelled or late based on the revised timetables.

“If operators aren’t planning to run any services whatsoever, then unfortunately you can’t claim compensation,” Mr Hayman said.

RMT members on South Western and Merseyrail were also on strike yesterday, with the union insisting support was “solid”, despite the services that ran without them.

The government has said no jobs are at risk under proposed changes which would give drivers responsibility for opening train doors.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Nobody is losing their job as a result of driver-controlled operation trains.

“Employees have been guaranteed jobs and salaries for several years.”

Meanwhile, the blaze which closed lines through Nottingham was being treated last night as arson.

Around 60 firefighters tackled the fire, which started at 6.30am in a block of toilets and spread to the main concourse and the roof

Up to 300 people were evacuated before the morning rush-hour began. No-one was injured.

Supt Sandra England of British Transport Police, said: “We have reason to believe the fire may have been started deliberately.

“Officers are working to identify anyone who may have been involved in the incident, and we are appealing for information from members of the public.”

Asked about potential disruptions for weekend football fans, Kirsty Derry, deputy managing director of East Midlands Trains, said: “We have got people working through the clock to make sure we get a really good level of service.”

“People should check before they travel and maybe it would be wise just to think about those alternative arrangements – but we are very optimistic about the level of service we can put on.”

The Grade II listed station was built in the mid-19th century and refurbished in recent years.