It’s that time of year again: twinkly lights are lining high streets, John Lewis has released its annual blockbuster ad and turkey baguettes are back on the shelves in Pret. Christmas is almost upon us. Sadly, so are more rail strikes.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has just announced further strikes in December, close to Christmas and in the run-up to the new year. The announcement comes after union members at Network Rail and 14 train companies voted in favour of further industrial action last week.
Chances are, the strikes are going to impact travel for people heading home for the holidays pretty badly. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming strikes.
When are the UK train strikes over Christmas?
There are four periods of strike action taking place between December and January. Each period will last 48 hours. The days affected are December 13, 14, 16 and 17, and January 3, 4, 6 and 7. The strikes will affect 14 major railway operators.
On November 26 there will also be train strikes, organised by the Aslef union. These walkouts will impact Avanti Coast, Southeastern, Chiltern and CrossCountry, with other lines running limited services.
In a separate dispute, the RMT said it will be holding strike action on Avanti West Coast services on December 11 and 12.
To make things even more confusing, major repairs are being made to various rail routes, which is likely to cause disruption, and there are also bus strikes coming up in December.
What have the unions said about the strikes?
Mick Lynch, the RMT general secretary, said the strike action would ‘send a clear message that we want a good deal on job security, pay and conditions’.
A spokesperson for the union added: ‘Our message to the public is, we are sorry to inconvenience you, but we urge you to direct your anger and frustration at the government and railway employers during this latest phase of action.’
What does this mean for Christmas travel?
If you want to head home for the holidays, you will probably need to travel before December 24, when many rail lines cease operating.
The few services that are running between December 24 and 30 are likely to be extremely busy as they are running a reduced service.
What about engineering disruption?
Repair works are to be carried out from December 25 to January 2 and the engineering works will halt services from Liverpool Street station.
During the same period, there will also be no Southern or Gatwick Express trains from Victoria station. There will be a reduced timetable from Euston station to destinations such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool between December 24 and 30.
What routes are affected?
From December 25 to January 2, there will be no rail services that will start or terminate at Liverpool Street, affecting Greater Anglia, Stansted Express and Cambridge trains.
From December 24 to 30, services to Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street, Birmingham International, Blackpool North, Scotland and Glasgow Central will run a reduced timetable from Euston.
From December 25 to January 2, there will be no Southern or Gatwick Express trains to or from London Victoria. Instead, most Southern trains will run to and from London Bridge. Replacement buses will be available between Clapham Junction and East Croydon.
Cannon Street station will be closed on December 24 (Christmas Eve) and some services will start or terminate at London Bridge.
On Christmas Eve, Lewisham station in London will be closed, with no trains operating between New Cross, St Johns and Dartford via Bexleyheath.
Elsewhere, the long-distance services from London Euston on the West Coast Main Line will run a reduced timetable.