Glastonbury Festival: Rail strike fails to halt many music fans

By Steffan Powell
Entertainment reporter

  • Published
Related Topics
Media caption,

Watch BBC reporter's journey to Glastonbury Festival

Panic, frustration, nerves - some of the emotions that were expected to be on show at London's Paddington station early Thursday morning.

Usually there would be special trains scheduled on top of the 11 that run all the time, taking excitable music lovers from London to Glastonbury across the day.

This year, there are just five, due to a second day of rail strikes taking place across the UK.

Some people arrived at the station at the crack of dawn to be as sure as possible of getting a space on one of those scarce services.

But they needn't have worried. The specially-erected holding pen for festival goers had fewer than 25 people in it just ahead of the first train at 07:44.

And away from the railways, the AA says traffic around Shepton Mallet, near the festival site, is also lighter than expected.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Becky Moriarty, Jared Hill and Rory Leighton were among those pictured at a very quiet Paddington station

Across the week, Great Western Railway say that 15,000 people will have travelled to the festival on the railway line from Paddington station.

That's around 7.5% of the total number of people who will be visiting Worthy Farm.

On the evidence of a calm and eerily quiet station on Thursday morning, many of those have heeded advice to travel on other days or found alternative ways of getting to Glastonbury.

Those who did arrive in the hope of getting on a train came prepared - camping chairs, flasks and pillows were set-up ready for a long wait.

"I would have liked an extra hour in bed if I could have had one, but it is what it is," Jim Roberts told us. He was the first person in the queue at 05:30.

"At first I didn't think the strikes would go ahead, I thought the government would sort it out and get round the negotiation table but as the day drew closer I was getting more and more worried, but we're here now and it looks like we will be getting to Glastonbury fine."

Image caption,
A holding pen erected for festival goers at Paddington had just 25 music fans in it on Thursday morning

Just behind Jim and his girlfriend was Jenny Stevens from Edinburgh. She now lives in Amsterdam and had travelled over especially for the festival for the first time.

"I'm really excited but have just been hoping I get there, and now I've seen the queue I think we will," she said. "It's going to be fine.

"I was pretty shocked when I arrived, I thought there was a mistake, like there are no trains on at all.

"But then there were a few people here already so I thought, there's a train, there's nobody here and hopefully we will be able to get on."

Image caption,
Jim Roberts said he and his girlfriend "had hardly been affected" by the strike action

The sense of relief from those we've spoken to who are making the journey was palpable. There wasn't much anger directed at those taking industrial action today.

Jim told us he thought people are well within their rights to strike as it's the only way they are going to improve their working conditions, adding: "In the end I've hardly been affected really."

Jenny said she was "frustrated but understood why the workers are doing it".

The earlier trains that were expected to be bursting at the seams have turned out to be rather pleasant for those travelling in them. If you wanted a table it was yours - something that wasn't true of the busy services seen from the same station earlier in the week.

That luxury will not last as the roads around the site are reportedly even busier than usual and so although things have been smoother than expected so far, with a coach journey to the site still to come, the Glastonbury ritual of a travel queue still awaits.

Image caption,
Festival-goers at London's Paddington Station on Thursday morning