Glastonbury Festival welcomes back crowds as fans deal with travel disruptionon June 22, 2022 at 7:40 am

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Worthy Farm will welcome more than 200,000 festival-goers, but some have had to change their plans.

Festival-goers at Worthy Farm last time out, in 2019Image source, Getty Images

Glastonbury Festival opens its gates on Wednesday morning, amid travel disruption due to a rail strike across England, Scotland and Wales.

More than 200,000 music fans will descend on Worthy Farm for the 2022 event, headlined by Sir Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish and Kendrick Lamar.

But on Tuesday, only 20% of trains were running and there are two more strikes planned – for Thursday and Saturday.

One fan, Sarah Hogg, says she is now “nervous” about taking the trip.

A while ago, the 33-year-old from Newcastle booked herself a seat on a train to London on Thursday morning, which would have got her there in time to catch a pre-booked coach to the festival.

But she’s now going to have to leave work early on Wednesday evening, to get the last train to London, where she’ll then have to crash on her friend’s sofa.

‘Come hell or high water’

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 who’s 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.”

Sarah Hogg (left) has been to Glastonbury six times before

Image source, Sarah Hogg

The dispute between the rail union RMT and employers, over pay and redundancies, led to the biggest 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 the 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.

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Now that it’s finally here, the McCartney fan and his friends will have to take an extra day off work, splash more cash and go the long way around in order to avoid disruption.

“It’s annoying but I’m just going to stay positive at the moment,” he says. “I’m generally supportive of the strike but I’d prefer it if it wasn’t this week.

“It will cost me more, and it’s going to take an extra two hours, but aside from this, I’ll be fine. But other people won’t be able to take time off work or afford the extra money.”

Crowds at Pyramid stage

Allan Clifford, a teacher from Leeds, is hoping to go to Glastonbury on Thursday, but the planned rail strikes have thrown his plans into doubt.

He was a regular at the festival when he was younger and is looking forward to returning in his 50s, but he isn’t sure how he’ll get there.

“My plans to go to Glastonbury could well be ruined by this strike, which would then mean the loss of a lot of my hard-earned money,” he tells the BBC.

However, as a member of the National Education Union, he says he still supports the RMT, despite his personal predicament.

‘A perfect storm’

Glastonbury is by no means the only major music event affected by the travel disruption this week. The Rolling Stones will play at London’s Hyde Park as part of its British Summer Time series, Green Day will perform in Huddersfield and London, and Ed Sheeran will walk out at Wembley Stadium.

Jon Collins, CEO of Live, which represents the UK’s live music sector, is warning fans to beware of “severe delays and potential safety risks” when taking alternative routes.

“This is one of the biggest weekends of the year for live music fans, with Glastonbury and British Summer Time both taking place for the first time in three years,” he says.

While his organisation does “recognise the legitimacy” of the strike action, Mr Collins stresses that the recently resurrected sector “is facing a perfect storm of fragile consumer confidence, rising costs, inflation and supply chain issues, meaning we frankly cannot take the impact of further strikes threatened this autumn”.

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