The finishing touches are being made to a special railway timetable that will be in operation across England, Scotland and Wales from Monday 20 to Sunday 26 June (inclusive). The special timetable, to be published on Friday, aims to offer the best service possible for passengers and freight users despite the industrial action planned next week by the RMT union.
Thousands of specially trained and fully qualified back-up staff will step-in during the planned RMT walk-outs on 21 June, 23 and 25 to keep vital services running, but as they are a fraction of the usual workforce, only a severely limited service will be available.
Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Talks have not progressed as far as I had hoped and so we must prepare for a needless national rail strike and the damaging impact it will have. We, and our train operating colleagues, are gearing up to run the best service we can for passengers and freight users next week despite the actions of the RMT.”
Only around half of Britain’s rail network will be open on strike days with a very limited service running on lines that will only be open from around 7.30am until 6.30pm.
Passengers who must travel are urged to plan ahead to ensure that they can complete their journeys within this window, with last services from London to Scotland, for example, leaving in the early afternoon.
Steve Montgomery, Chair of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “These strikes will affect the millions of people who use the train each day, including key workers, students with exams, those who cannot work from home, holidaymakers and those attending important business and leisure events.
“Working with Network Rail, our plan is to keep as many services running as possible, but significant disruption will be inevitable and some parts of the network will not have a service, so passengers should plan their journeys carefully and check their train times.
“Taxpayers have provided the equivalent of about £600 per household since covid and passenger numbers are still only at around 75% of pre pandemic levels. We need to bring rail up to date so that we attract more people back and take no more than our fair share from the public purse.
“We ask the RMT’s leadership to call off these damaging strikes and continue talks to reach a deal that is fair to staff and taxpayers, and which secures a bright, long-term future of our railways.”
On the days that follow the strikes (22nd, 24th and 26th June) the whole network will reopen but passengers should also expect disruption on these days as the strike days chosen have been designed to inflict as much disruption as possible, with not enough time between the strike days to fully recover to a normal service.
Further information for passengers is available on the National Rail website. The special timetable will also ensure key freight services can continue to move around the country, minimising disruption for consumers and businesses and allowing vital goods to continue to be shipped where needed.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Passengers will be disappointed that strikes are due to take place next week.
“It is passengers who suffer most in the event of strikes, having to cancel plans or endure disruption to their journeys. It is crucial that all parties keep current and future passengers in mind when trying to resolve this dispute.
“Passengers need plenty of advance information about the services that will and won’t be running to allow them to plan their journeys. They also need to know how to get their money back if they now won’t travel.”
TransPennine Express: RMT strike dates will cut services to 10 percent
TransPennine Express (TPE) is calling on its customers to think carefully about their travel options and to only make essential journeys during planned RMT strike action next week.
The union has announced industrial action on Tuesday 21, Thursday 23, and Saturday 25 June and, with an amended timetable in place, TPE is warning the very few services it is able to run each day will be extremely busy. There will also be significant disruption to services on days either side of the strike action.
Kathryn O’Brien, Customer Experience Director at TransPennine Express said: “Due to the RMT action we will only be able to operate around 10 per cent of our usual daily services. Alongside other operators, we simply won’t be able to provide journeys for the tens of thousands of customers who would normally rely on us and any services we are able to run will be extremely busy.
“Therefore, we’re asking our customers to think carefully about their travel across the whole of next week and to only make essential journeys by rail. People should, where possible, consider alternative modes of transport.”
On the days of RMT strike action, TPE will operate a small number of services on just four routes (Newcastle – Edinburgh, Sheffield – Cleethorpes, Manchester Airport – Preston and Manchester Piccadilly – York), with the vast majority of its managed stations closed with no rail or replacement service available for customers.
Kathryn added: “We will do all we can to provide the best possible service for our customers, but with the limited timetable and trains starting later and finishing earlier than usual we need all our customers to plan essential journeys carefully.
“It’s extremely disappointing that RMT has chosen to take strike action which will not only cause significant disruption for our customers, but will also damage the recovery of the rail industry.
“Like many other industries, rail is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic and the latest strikes – which follow almost five months of industrial action by RMT – only serve to put this recovery at risk.
“We remain open for talks with the union, but any talks must be realistic, affordable and take into account the context of the environment in which the rail industry is now operating.”
Anyone planning journeys should check carefully, up to the last minute, as there is potential for delays and further cancellations. Bikes will not be permitted onboard TPE services on strike days.