RMT strike action planned for Christmas Eve will have a severe impact on rail services on the day with passengers being advised to only travel if absolutely necessary or to consider travelling another day.
Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “ RMT suggestions that their planned strike action over the festive period is ‘not targeting Christmas’ would be laughable were the consequences not so painful to so many people including on Christmas Eve.
“The RMT is causing needless misery to its own members, to the railway and to the country’s economy.
“I am so sorry that our passengers are having to bear the brunt of the RMT’s needless strike when a fair offer is on the table and when only a third of the workforce have rejected it. Our offer guarantees jobs and gives everyone a decent pay-rise of 9% and more. Two of our three trade unions have already accepted and the RMT needs to think again.”
With most vital RMT staff due to leave their posts at 6pm on 24 December, by then, all trains will have to be off the network and safely stabled ready for start-up on 27 December. Also, hundreds of vital engineering trains need to be moved into position much earlier than normal before the strike begins resulting in passenger journeys having to have been completed, in most locations, by 3pm.
For longer journeys, last trains will be in the morning and passengers are strongly advised to check their journey details ahead of time. Christmas Eve timetables will be published tomorrow. Added industrial action means some rail companies will be unable to run any services on the 24th, with further significant impacts between Christmas and New Year.
Strike action by the RMT on 24th December will also affect services part of the Transport for London network. This will mean customers should complete journeys by lunchtime on the Elizabeth line, London Overground and some parts of the Tube including the Bakerloo line between Queen’s Park and Harrow & Wealdstone and the District line between Wimbledon and Parsons Green as well as Richmond and Turnham Green. Please check the TfL website for the latest travel information, including detailed times of last trains.
The RMT strike action also means that even very limited Boxing Day services run in a handful of locations won’t run. Strike action continues through to 6am on the 27th resulting in a later start-up of services, typically between 9am and 12pm.
A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “The RMT’s willingness to disrupt people’s travel plans for the first Christmas in three years without Covid restrictions is deeply disappointing. We worked hard to avoid this damaging widespread campaign of industrial action affecting travel during the festive period and we apologise to our customers. The RMT overtime ban in place up to 2 January will also affect services and we urge customers to check with the websites and social media of National Rail Enquiries and their train operator.
“We are now focusing on giving passengers the maximum possible certainty so they can make alternative plans if necessary.
“We believe the 8% offer fairly balances the need to make the changes required to improve services and secure the long-term future of the railway with our aspiration to give our people a pay rise.”
Christmas is an important time for the railway as it gives us the opportunity to get a lot of work done to improve the railway when trains aren’t running, and therefore keep disruption for our passengers at a minimum. A £120m programme of over 300 projects was planned for this Christmas with around 85% of this improvement work still going ahead, despite the RMT strike.
Customers with Advance, Anytime or Off-Peak tickets for travel on a strike day can instead use their ticket on an alternative date:
– Tickets for 13, 14, 16, 17 December can instead be used the day before the date on the ticket, or up to and including Tuesday 20thDecember
– Tickets for 24 December can instead be used on either the 21, 22, 23 December or up to and including Thursday 29 December
– Tickets for 26, 27 December can instead be used on 23 December or up to and including Thursday 29 December
– Tickets for 3, 4, 6, 7 January can instead be used the day before the date on the ticket, or up to and including Tuesday 10th
– Passengers with Advance tickets can be refunded fee-free if the train that the ticket is booked for is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.
If the Advance ticket is for a train that is scheduled for a strike day, is not cancelled, delayed or rescheduled, but a customer prefers not to travel, they should contact their ticket retailer.
Customers with 2 x Advance tickets (an outbound and a return), to be used as a return journey, may be able to get a fee-free refund or change of journey for any unused legs/tickets, if one (either) of the legs is scheduled for a strike day. Customers should check with their ticket retailer.
Customers with tickets for long distance operators, particularly where seat reservations are required, can obtain a refund and rebook onto an alternative service. Trains running on days either side of strike days are likely to be extremely busy and a seat cannot be guaranteed. Customers are advised to check with their operator before travelling.
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