Those heading to Worthy Farm for this year’s Glastonbury festival are now likely to have a torrid time traveling there, owing to the biggest rail strike in over three decades.
The festival has a huge line-up this year, including headline performances from Kendrick Lamar, Billie Eilish and Sir Paul McCartney scheduled to take place. The long-awaited 50th anniversary of Glastonbury had of course been delayed for two years due to covid, but is now finally set to take place between 22nd and 26th June.
And now it seems those lucky enough to have bagged a ticket will face major travel disruption after members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 13 train operators announced they will go on strike on June 21st, 23rd and 25th.
This decision came following a ballot of 40,000 members who voted overwhelmingly for full-scale industrial action last month following disputes over three key issues: pay, compulsory redundancies and safety concerns.
Many festival-goers will be going to Glastonbury on different days, with many driving and some taking coaches, and therefore not all of the approximately 200,000 heading to the Somerset site will be affected.
However, the news has been met with frustration by those who were planning to go via train on the day strikes are due to take place. Many will likely travel by train on Great Western Rail, which links London to the South West – but that line will now essentially be shut down during the strike action
Joe Green, whose heading to his first Glastonbury festival and was planning to go on Thursday 23rd, told whynow: “I know it’s not the worst news in the world right now, but still, after two years of Glastonbury being delayed it just feels like a bit of shame for there to be a strike.”
Darcy Lewis, meanwhile, another scheduled Glastonbury-goer, said: “I don’t quite know how I’m going to get there now. I’ll have to have a rethink. It’s a bit of a pain.”
The RMT Union has announced another 24-hour strike – something that also took place on Monday this week – with tube workers now going on strike on 21st June. (It’s a good thing whynow’s Archie reviewed them all in time).
Other large-scale events likely to be affected by the strikes include British Summer Time Hyde Park, in which Sir Elton John and The Rolling Stones are scheduled to play on Friday 24th June and Saturday 25th June, respectively.
Passengers returning from the Isle of Wight Festival could also face disruption and will have to return home straightaway on the Monday 20th June to avoid the strike action.
Mick Lynch, the RMT general secretary has come out defending the decision to engage in strike action, saying railway workers have been “treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the government has failed to take their concerns seriously.”
“We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1% and rising,” he added. “Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.”