Rail strike impact compounded by ‘ongoing crew availability issues’

As train drivers working for nine rail operators began their latest one-day strike, travelers between north-west England and southern Scotland have been told overnight that no trains are available.

TransPennine Express, whose staff are not involved in the stoppages, has canceled all trains between Glasgow and Manchester on Saturday due to “ongoing crew availability issues”. The firm “advises to only travel if necessary between Manchester and Glasgow”.

With Avanti West Coast canceling all its trains on the main line between North West England and South Scotland, there is now no easy way to travel by train between the two regions.

One disappointed passenger, Keith Graham, said: “I have organized a reunion of friends today in the North of England, which had been postponed several times due to the pandemic.

“With no Avanti services running between Glasgow and Manchester, they have effectively canceled our long-planned reunion, with many sunk costs on hotels etc.

“How is it possible for an organization whose sole purpose is to run trains to be in such a chaotic state?”

TransPennine Express said: “Due to the ongoing impact of higher than normal sickness levels and ongoing working conditions issues, it is necessary to make changes to some services in advance to ensure the majority of the timetable operates effectively.”

Some connections on the main east coast line from Edinburgh to Newcastle and York have also been removed – causing problems for passengers hoping to avoid the effects of the drivers’ strike.

Of the nine train operators whose drivers belonging to Aslef have walked out, five are running no trains on Saturday: Avanti West Coast, Southeastern, West Midlands Trains, London Overground and CrossCountry.

Greater Anglia, Hull Trains, LNER and Great Western Railway run some services, but only a fraction of their normal scale and frequency.

The disruption is expected to continue through Sunday.

Thursday 18 and Friday 20 On August around 40,000 members of the RMT union will go out in the latest national rail strikes, bringing many services to a standstill across the UK.

Even on train operators not involved in pay disputes, such as Transport for Wales and ScotRail, there will be serious disruption due to Network Rail signalers going out. The effects will continue on Friday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Avanti West Coast will start an emergency route from Sunday. Rail services connecting London Euston with the West Midlands, north-west England and southern Scotland will be severely reduced.

The biggest reductions are on services connecting Birmingham and Manchester to London – reduced by two-thirds, with one train every hour instead of three.

There will also be cuts to Chester and North Wales, and from London via the West Midlands to Edinburgh.

Typically, Avanti West Coast relies on 250 drivers per day working on their rest days – covering around 400 passenger trains.

Sources say that literally overnight, the number of drivers working rest days fell dramatically – by almost 90 percent.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, wrote in a tweet: “Unions are now stopping drivers from volunteering – causing misery for the public and unpaid staff.”

Avanti West Coast says it wants to “ensure a reliable service is provided so our customers can travel with greater safety” – although it acknowledges the emergency route plan will cause “enormous frustration and inconvenience”.

But Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, says there is an overwhelming mandate for industrial action on Avanti’s west coast.

He told The independent: “When you lose goodwill and we go on strike, the first thing that usually happens is people not coming in to work overtime.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.