Rail passengers face further misery as long distance services cancelled

Hundreds of travellers were forced to queue in the rain on Saturday amid train cancellations.

Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express services cancelled or delayed due to ongoing dispute STV News

Travellers have been faced with further misery on the railways as some services were delayed or cancelled on Saturday. 

Hundreds of passengers were forced to queue in the rain outside Glasgow Central after long distance services operated by Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express were disrupted. 

Rail companies are struggling to operate services as train drivers refuse to work overtime and on rest days amid a pay dispute. 

While an issue with ScotRail drivers concluded on Monday, other rail operators continue to experience staffing issues.

It comes as more than 40,000 Network Rail workers are set to strike on Wednesday after talks failed to resolve a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) from 14 different train companies including TransPennine Express will walk out on July 27, grinding services to a halt. 

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has also announced a strike by its members at Avanti West Coast on the same day.

Avanti West Coast highlighted on Twitter that weekend services had been “disrupted in recent weeks” and apologised for the inconvenience caused to passengers.

The company added an amended timetable has been introduced from Saturday onwards in a bid to address the issues. 

Meanwhile TransPennine Express said it was forced to introduce an amended timetable earlier this year due to high levels of staff sickness during the Covid pandemic.

The company added pre-planned cancellations are announced each evening for the following day in a bid to keep passengers up to date.

A spokesperson for TransPennine Express said: “In response to the ongoing impact of the Covid pandemic – and continuing high levels of staff sickness – earlier this year we introduced an amended timetable which resulted in changes to many of our services.

“The changes are designed to provide more certainty for customers and reduce the potential for short-notice cancellations.

“Sadly, as sickness levels have remained high and the situation has been exacerbated by industrial relations issues, it has been necessary to introduce a programme of pre-planned cancellations to further reduce the risk of short-notice, on-the-day, cancellations. These cancellations are published on our website every evening for the following day’s services.

“We understand the changes may be frustrating for our customers and apologise to anyone whose journey may have been affected by these changes. We urge everyone to check timetables carefully before travelling.”

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “Like many industries, we’re experiencing a shortage of key staff due to a number of factors including short term sickness.

“With the ongoing industrial dispute we’re also seeing far fewer people volunteering for extra shifts that they’ve done in the past.

“We’re sorry for the impact this has had on our customers and will continue working with all our industry partners to deliver a railway that meets changing passenger needs.”

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