A girl at a London school is planning a four-and-a-half-hour journey to take her maths A-level exam on Tuesday, as the rail strike is set to cause serious disruption to travel.
Other students have had to book hotels or stay with friends like the country keys for the first day of the strike – the worst train strike in three decades.
The travel headache described by the headmaster of the City of London School for Girls is just one example of the disruption facing millions of people this week.
Railway strikes – latest updates
Jenny Brown said the “double whammy” of a London Underground and train strike on Tuesday was particularly problematic for the central London school, where the vast majority use public transport.
“We had to think a lot about how to take care of those students, contingency arrangements. Some, when possible, stay with local friends,” he said.
“And for those who have long trips, a lot of careful thought is required. Some have booked Travelodges, some are staying with local friends.
“I just heard from a student that she’s going to take four and a half hours for her commute, to make sure she gets there for her math test in the afternoon.”
About 40,000 workers are on strike over wages, jobs and conditions, but the transportation secretary called it “totally wrong” and said rail workers already receive fair wages.
The strikes will add to the stress of test takers across the country, and it’s another unexpected hurdle after years of disrupted learning during the COVID pandemic.
“It would have been absolutely wonderful if thought had been given beforehand to try and protect those [pupils] and avoid beating up young people who are having a pretty rough time,” Ms. Brown said.
There is some room to delay the start of the exam, but the principal said that some students will inevitably fall behind despite their best efforts.
She told Sky News: “I would imagine that, like many schools across the country, we will be sending exceptional circumstance requests to examination boards for those who, through no fault of their own, are simply unable to get into school for the start of the exam. “.
Millions of employees are also making alternative travel plans, deciding to work from home or take the day off before the strikes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
People at London’s Euston station seemed to have mixed opinions about the strike.
“As a member of a union, I always support unions,” one woman told Sky News.
“It interrupts my trip but you know what? If they feel like they need to go on strike, that’s their business and I support them.”
“They have to go on strike, they are worthy causes,” said another traveler. “It’s inconvenient, but these guys have thought it through.”
But one man admitted he was facing a travel “nightmare” and might have to use a rental bike as London’s train and tube network comes to a standstill.
“I think we all support the people who do their jobs, we all support the people who get the most money,” he said. “The current cost of living, we know we need to get paid, but at the same time let’s not hold the public to ransom.”