Glastonbury Festival opens its doors on Wednesday morning amid rail strikes disrupting travel in England, Scotland and Wales. More than 200,000 music fans will descend on Worthy Farms for the 2022 event, headlined by Sir Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish and Kendrick Lamar.
But on Tuesday, only 20% of the trains were running, and two more strikes were planned – for Thursday and Saturday.
One fan, Sarah Hogg, says she is now “nervous” about travelling.
Not long ago, the 33-year-old woman from Newcastle had booked herself a seat on a train bound for London on Thursday morning, which would have taken her there just in time to catch a coach already booked for the festival. But now he has to leave work early on Wednesday evening to take the last train to London, where he will have to crash on his friend’s couch.
Sarah’s slickly planned journey has turned into a 24-hour endurance test involving an extra day hanging around in London. “It’s made me incredibly nervous about it, and it’s just added stress.
“It wasn’t that long ago when they announced that this [the strike] was all happening, at a point where everyone going to the festival had already planned how to get there.
“I’m not particularly happy about it, but come hell or high water, I will get myself to Worthy Farm.” Is it worth the added stress and cost? “Of course,” says the seven-time Glastonbury ticket-holder. “It’s my favourite place on this planet.”
The dispute between the rail union RMT and employers over pay and redundancies led to the most significant rail strike in decades being announced on 7 June – just two weeks before the festival.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has been urged to intervene to find a solution, while PM Boris Johnson has called on passengers to “stay the course”, saying proposed reforms are in their interest.
Zahid Fayyaz, a solicitor from Brixton, has been to Glastonbury “five or six times”, and he usually gets the train to Castle Cary, near Pilton in Somerset, on Thursday.
Like Sarah, he bought his tickets in October 2019 and kept hold of them, as the event’s 50th-anniversary celebrations were twice cancelled due to the pandemic.