A day earlier, Mr. Lynch told Sky News that a deal should have been done in December, when the retail price index, a measure of inflation, was at about 7 percent. Since then, the annual rate shot up to 11.1 percent in April, the highest since 1982. The latest wage increase offered by the train operators is far lower than that.
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At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Johnson blamed the R.M.T., saying that the union wanted to force unacceptable fare increases on to passengers and to preserve work practices that date to the Victorian era.
“We need the union barons to sit down with Network Rail and the train companies and get on with it,” the prime minister said. “We need to get ready to stay the course. To stay the course, because these reforms, these improvements in the way we run our railways, are in the interests of the traveling public.”
Mr. Johnson’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, dismissed the strikes as a “stunt.” Speaking to Sky News, he said that if the government intervened in the talks, “it wouldn’t resolve anything — in fact, it would make matters worse.”
Signs of the disruption proliferated on Tuesday morning. At Clapham Junction, in South London, passengers waiting for trains to Gatwick Airport said that they had given themselves several extra hours to make their flights.
“We had to get up at 6:30 this morning for a flight at 3 in the afternoon,” said Tim Tredwin, 24, who works for a florist and was flying to New York for a vacation. At work, he said, many customers called in to cancel office deliveries in the days leading up to the strike because they knew that many people would be working from home.