Rail strikes to disrupt services before Christmas in revised timetable

Rail services across the country are set to be thrown into turmoil on some of the busiest days before Christmas.

Scottish rail timetable revised as strikes force services to be slashed in lead up to Christmas iStock

People travelling by rail next week are set to be hit by significant disruption as RMT union members prepare to walk out in two 48-hour strikes in a dispute over pay.

Network Rail RMT members are currently voting on a pay offer, due to close on December 12, however, even if strike action is called off after that vote, it would take the rail industry at least 48 hours to restore a normal service. 

Rail services across the country are again set to be thrown into turmoil on December 13 and 14, and December 16 and 17 – some of the busiest days before Christmas.

Network Rail said plans are being put in place to keep customers moving and a similar level of service to previous strikes will be delivered.

ScotRail said that a limited number of services will operate on a reduced number of routes, but as many of the Network Rail staff that are due to take part in the planned industrial action occupy safety-critical roles, it will not be possible for ScotRail to run the vast majority of services. 

On December 15, the same limited service will remain in place due to the complexity of restarting a full service with just a few hours between strikes.

The routes – which will be in operation from around 7.30am until 6.30pm on the affected dates – are: 

  • Edinburgh Waverley – Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High: two trains per hour    
  • Edinburgh Waverley – Helensburgh Central: two trains per hour   
  • Glasgow Central – Hamilton/Larkhall: two trains per hour    
  • Glasgow Central – Lanark: two trains per hour    
  • Edinburgh Waverley – Glasgow Central via Shotts: one train per hour  
  • Edinburgh Waverley – Cowdenbeath: two trains per hour  
  • Edinburgh Waverley – Tweedbank: two trains per hour  
  • Edinburgh Waverley – North Berwick: one train per hour  
  • Edinburgh Waverley – Larbert: one train per hour 
  • Glasgow Queen Street – Larbert: one train per hour  
  • Glasgow Queen Street – Falkirk Grahamston: one train per hour  
  • Milngavie – Springburn: two trains per hour

Passengers planning to use cross-border services during the period of industrial action are being advised to check before travelling.

In addition to disruption on strike days, train operators in England and Wales will also see disruption to services between December 18 and January 7 as union members take part in industrial action short of a strike.

Liam Sumpter, route director for Network Rail Scotland, said: “We understand the impact this strike action will have and we are working hard to keep as many passengers as possible moving during the next phase of RMT industrial action.

“We remain committed to working with the RMT to find a solution to this dispute and avert disruption at this important time of the year, but we also need to find a pay deal that is fair on the taxpayers who fund our railway.

“Please check your journey in advance next week as those services that are operating will finish much earlier in the evening.”

The RMT has also announced plans for strike action between December 24 and 27, and January 3 and 4, and January 6 and 7.

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said:  “It’s really disappointing to see more widespread disruption across the whole Great Britain rail network as a result of the dispute between Network Rail and the RMT at a time when we need to be encouraging more people back to the railway. 

“For ScotRail, it’s going to mean that we won’t be able to operate the vast majority of our services between 13 and 17 December, which we know will be really frustrating for our customers.    

 “We’re advising customers to seek alternative means of transport and to only travel if they really need to on the days of strike action.  

“Customers should check their journey in advance to make sure your train is running.” 

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that it was unfortunate that that union had been compelled to take this action due to the continuing intransigence of the employers. 

“We remain available for talks in order to resolve these issues but we will not bow to pressure from the employers and the government to the detriment of our members,” he said.

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