Rail passengers are being warned that there will be only a “very limited” timetable across the UK when workers go on strike next week.
More than 40,000 members of the RMT union are set to stage the largest walkout of rail workers in the UK for more than 30 years on 21, 23 and 25 June in a dispute with train operators over pay and jobs.
Ahead of the planned industrial action, Network Rail said only around 20 per cent of normal services would be running on the strike days and urged passengers to “plan ahead and only travel by rail if necessary”.
Network Rail is currently putting the “finishing touches” to a special rail timetable to operate across England, Scotland and Wales from 20-26 June. Full details of the timetable will be published on Friday (17 June).
The special timetable will see trains start later and finish much earlier than usual with services operating between 7.30am and 6.30pm. This means that the last daily services from London to Scotland, for example, will depart in the early afternoon.
Rail travellers are also being told to expect disruption on the three days following the strikes (22, 24 and 26 June), even though the entire network is due to reopen on these days. Network Rail said there was “not enough time between the strike days to fully recover to a normal service”.
Steve Montgomery, chair of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operating companies, 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.”
Negotiations between the two sides are continuing to try to settle the industrial dispute ahead of next week’s strikes but hopes of reaching a last-minute deal are not high.
Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, added: “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.”