They reported quieter than expected travelling conditions throughout the country with British Rail saying that in London, where they carry 400,000 passengers daily, the strike by the signalmen had cost them pounds 10m in lost revenue.
A few rail services did operate. Trains ran between Derby and London St Pancras with managers and non-union staff working.
Local services also ran between Worcester and Oxford, and Leicester and Loughborough. The Chiltern Line between Aylesbury and Marylebone was used by 16,000 commuters, and some services in Ashford and Orpington in Kent and Kilburn in north London also carried passengers. Trains on the London Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness line also operated.
British Rail said only 250 of its normal 15,000 services had operated. Most of Railtrack's 11,000 mile network was train-free with no services running in Scotland, Wales and North-west England.
As thousands began the commuting misery of returning home last night many were aware that they faced the possibility of having to go through it all again next Wednesday. The rail union, RMT has further strikes planned unless a pay settlement is agreed.
British Rail also warned that early morning commuters today may still face disruption because of trains being berthed away from their normal locations during the stoppage.
With no trains yesterday, many passengers faced staying at home or taking to the roads. The AA said roads into London were busier than normal. Many people took to their bicycles, to the delight of organisers of the current National Bike Week.