Train strikes: Doctor forced to reschedule patient appointments as rail workers walk out

An NHS doctor was forced to reschedule appointments booked by four patients after getting caught in Wednesday's rail strikes.

Members of the Aslef union walked out on Wednesday, meaning several operations - including Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Northern and Thameslink - are running no trains.

Sylvia Lewandowska, 46, an NHS orbital prosthetist at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, said her journey to commute from London Paddington was delayed by an hour.

Read more:
The rail services affected by industrial action this week

"I have to wait an hour for my train so all my patients will have to wait," she said.

"Whatever the reason is for strikes, they shouldn't affect working people who can't change their situation."

Many of her patients, she said, are from different parts of the UK and many are elderly.

"I'll try to work late if patients are happy to wait but others might have other things to attend.

"I can't do anything about it."

Another delayed passenger says he has spent an extra £3,000 in the last year on taxis and hotels due to the industrial action.

Speaking at Paddington station, Mark Mullan, a chemical engineer working in Reading, said: "I would normally have taken the 6.32am to Reading.

"The delay means I might lose an hour's time and £50-60 of budget," the 59-year-old from Wimbledon said.

"It's a bit of an annoyance, really."

The bitter row continues

Aslef union's general secretary Mick Whelan said no negotiations aimed at resolving the bitter row are taking place, while the Department for Transport (DfT) insisted it has "facilitated a fair and reasonable pay offer".

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) has called a strike for Friday, while another Aslef walkout will take place on Saturday - the day of the FA Cup final and the Epsom Derby.

Passengers are being advised to plan ahead and check the times of the first, and last, trains.

The strikes affect 16 train companies.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said around 40% of trains are running on Aslef strike days, but there will be wide regional variations. On the RMT strike day on Friday, around half of normal services will run.

'Holding the country hostage'

Uwe Kraeker, 60, an accounts director from Freiburg, Germany, said train strikes "take the rest of the country hostage".

Speaking at Paddington station, he said: "I just cancelled my meeting with my colleague in Newport.

"I was supposed to get the train at 7.48am but it was cancelled.

"It's pretty frustrating."