Network Rail is reminding passengers of severe disruption to train services next week as the rail industry gears up for five consecutive days of strikes by the RMT and ASLEF trades unions, starting next Tuesday 3 January 2023.
48-hour strike action on Tuesday 3 & Wednesday 4, and Friday 6 & Saturday 7 January by RMT, and on Thursday 5 January by ASLEF, will result in severe disruption to train services with some parts of the rail network having no services at all
On RMT strike days an extremely limited service will operate from 07.30 and all journeys must be completed by 18.30; first trains will start later, and the last trains will leave much earlier
On the ASLEF strike day, trains will only operate on an extremely limited number of routes
Disruption should also be expected on the morning of Sunday 8 January where there could be short-notice cancellations and alterations – as the railway recovers from the previous day’s strikes.
Passengers are urged to only travel if it is absolutely necessary where trains are operating and find alternative ways to make their journey
During this latest period of industrial action, across Network Rail’s Western route – which covers the railway and towns and communities between Penzance and London Paddington – passengers should expect an extremely limited service with some parts of the network having no services at all and where trains are running they will start later and finish earlier.
Thousands of specially trained and fully qualified back-up staff will step in during the RMT walkouts on 3-4 and 6-7 January to keep vital services running for those who need them. On RMT strike days, around half of the network will shut down, with only about 20% of normal services running.
On RMT strike days there will be no train services south west of Plymouth, including the whole of Cornwall and all branch lines in Devon. An hourly CrossCountry service will be in operation between Manchester and Reading with extensions to Southampton, and there will be a reduced service on westbound Elizabeth Line services between London Paddington and Reading and on Heathrow Express services between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport, both ending at 18:30.
On the ASLEF strike day (5 Jan), most parts of the Western route will have no services at all with trains only operating between Reading and Basingstoke, Reading and Oxford and between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads. These services will only be in operation for a limited time during the day.
Across the entire five-day strike period, GWR will be running a very limited service, with varying routes being served across the different strike days. More information on how train services are being affected is available at https://www.gwr.com/strike
Passengers are encouraged to check with their train operators for the latest information on services, ticket acceptance and how to claim a refund, as well as visiting the National Rail Enquiries website.
Meanwhile, the RMT has an overtime ban in place at 14 train operating companies until 2 January that will continue to affect the level of cancellations and the punctuality of some services. This action may particularly affect those travelling out of London late in the evening on New Year’s Eve and passengers are advised to plan their journey in advance.
David Davidson, Network Rail’s interim Western route director, said: “It is so disappointing, particularly in the first week of the new year, to have to ask passengers again to only travel if absolutely necessary, due to further strike action by both the RMT and ASLEF trades unions.
“As a result of this industrial action, train services will be severely disrupted, starting Tuesday 3 through to and including Saturday 7 January - a near weeklong period of disruption for passengers.
“I would like apologise to passengers for this latest period of disruption and urge them to seek alternative ways to travel than by train and for those passengers who must travel by train to expect severe disruption, plan ahead and check the time of your last train home.”