Bank holiday rail strike: More trains cancelled

Scotrail trains Image copyright PA

More rail companies are cancelling services over the bank holiday weekend, as talks continue to try to avert a planned strike by Network Rail staff.

Thousands of signallers, maintenance staff and station workers are due to walk out for 24 hours from 17:00 BST on Monday in a row over pay and jobs.

If they do, limited services will run on Scotrail, Gatwick and Heathrow Express lines and Southeastern.

And there will be no Virgin West Coast mainline services on Monday or Tuesday.

The operator, Virgin Trains, also warned that the East Coast line would be badly affected.

Widespread cancellations are also expected to be announced on CrossCountry Trains, Chiltern Railways, Arriva Trains Wales and First Great Western on Monday and Tuesday.

Rail companies say further disruption and delays are likely on Wednesday, as services return to normal.

If the strike goes ahead, fans of Middlesbrough and Norwich City football clubs may have trouble travelling to Wembley for the Championship play-off final at 15:00 BST on Monday.

An outline of how the strike will affect all train companies is expected today, with full details likely on Saturday - but passengers are being advised not to travel unless "absolutely necessary".

Which services are running?

  • Virgin Trains: All West Coast main line services are cancelled on Monday and Tuesday. East Coast services will operate as normal until early on Monday afternoon except in Scotland. On Tuesday, a limited number of trains are expected to run on the London to Leeds and London to York/Newcastle routes only
  • First Great Western will run limited services from Oxford, Reading, Swindon, Plymouth, Bath Spa and Portsmouth, and no service on Devon and Cornwall branch lines on Monday or Tuesday
  • Chiltern Railways: Trains on Monday will start much later and finish much earlier than usual. Some routes will not operate and trains will not call at some stations. Trains serving Wembley Stadium, where the Middlesbrough-Norwich City play-off final is taking place, will not operate
  • Abellio Greater Anglia is putting on special trains for Norwich City football fans travelling to Wembley on Monday
  • Southeastern trains are expected to be severely impacted and people are being told to avoid travelling on Monday or Tuesday
  • London Midland will not run any services on most of its network on Monday and Tuesday
  • Merseytravel will not run Merseyrail trains after 18:00 BST on Monday, when thousands of people will be trying to get home after the Three Queens event in Liverpool, marking 175 years of Cunard liners. No trains will run on Tuesday
  • Arriva Trains Wales - There will be no services between Shrewsbury, Birmingham, Crewe, Wrexham and Chester all day on Monday. A small number of services will run between Cardiff and the south Wales valleys on Tuesday
  • Scotrail will run a handful of services. It has published a reduced timetable on its website
  • Heathrow Express will run a normal timetable until 6.30pm on Monday and on Tuesday between 7.30am and 6.30pm. Trains between Heathrow terminals are also set to finish at 6.30pm on Monday and run between 7.30am and 6.30pm on Tuesday. Heathrow Connect stopping service between Paddington and Heathrow will not run on Monday or Tuesday
  • Gatwick Express will run an extremely limited service on Monday and no service on Tuesday

Talks between Network Rail and union bosses at the conciliation service, Acas, are continuing.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) have rejected a four-year pay deal of a £500 increase followed by three years of rises in line with RPI inflation.

Virgin said if the strike was called off with enough notice, it would hope to run a "near normal" service.

But Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne has advised travellers not to "bank on" the unions calling it off, although he still believes there is "a settlement to be had".

He said his team would be available all week and into the weekend if necessary, to reach a deal.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Network Rail has told travellers not to bank on unions calling off the walkout

People who have already booked tickets should check with their train operator on the special measures in place, he added.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said his team were also prepared to continue negotiations over the weekend.

"In the meantime, our picketing arrangements are in place and the response coming back from our members is one of rock-solid support," he added.

The RMT has been forced into this dispute through "a wholly-unwarranted attack on safety-critical jobs, pay and working conditions" that undermines passenger safety, he added.

Scottish transport minister Derek Mackay said the strike was "very likely to go ahead" and have a "significant impact" on rails and roads.

ScotRail Alliance managing director Phil Verster, said the firm was "very disappointed" to have to make so many cancellations but, as it was a UK-wide national strike, "there's very little we can do about it from the Scotland side".

He told BBC Radio Scotland 470 Network Rail signallers could strike and he has only 23 contingency signallers so "our capability to step in is very, very limited".

Later, the High Court is due to hear a challenge from Network Rail over flaws in the ballot by the TSSA.

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