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Train strikes and engineering works spell a troubled September for commuters

Rail passengers face widespread disruption at weekends through the month

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 31 August 2018 10:39 BST
Simon Calder: train strikes and engineering works spell a troubled September

As another strike hits commuters to Britain’s busiest railway station, train travellers in September face widespread disruption due to industrial action and engineering work.

London Waterloo is quieter than usual because of cuts in rush-hour trains in the latest stoppage in a dispute over the role of guards.

Members of the RMT union working for South Western Railway have begun a three-day strike that ends at midnight on Sunday 2 September. The train operator says: “A reduced service will run on most of our network.

“Some routes will not have a train service or a replacement bus service.”

Further strikes are scheduled for the next two Saturdays on 8 and 15 September.

RMT members working for Northern Rail are stopping work on every Saturday in September. The train operator says: “We will operate a reduced timetable with very few trains running before 9am and after 6pm.

“Unfortunately, on some routes, we won’t be able to run services, while others will have a limited service. On those routes where we are able to operate trains, we expect all services to be extremely busy.”

The strike will affect people travelling to a number of big events across the north of England, including the Hull Freedom Festival, Chester and Beverley races, and a Britney Spears concert in Blackpool.

London Euston station will be closed for the third weekend running on Saturday and Sunday, 1-2 September.

Virgin Trains services on the West Coast main line will terminate at Milton Keynes Central and Rugby, with limited bus replacement services.

Chiltern Railways services between London Marylebone and Birmingham are expected to be extremely busy.

Eurostar passengers have also faced problems, with the cancellation of the first train on Friday morning from London St Pancras to Brussels “due to operational reasons”. The service is used by many travellers on longer journeys into Europe.

Due to service cuts, the next available train to the Belgian capital is nearly three hours later.

The train operator has promised compensation to passengers.

Next weekend (8-9 September) it is the turn of Eurostar passengers to Paris to experience disruption. The high-speed line is closed just north of the French capital for repairs. As a result, trains from London to Paris will be using the slower route via Arras, with services taking up to an hour longer.

Further afield, there is some good news for rail passengers in eastern Europe. The new edition of the European Rail Timetable reports a new train connecting the capitals of Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. The service linking Riga, Vilnius, Minsk and Kiev “restores a rail link between Vilnius and Riga after a gap of many years”, according to the editor, Chris Woodcock.

“Initially the train will run only every six to eight days, but an increase in frequency is expected,” he said.

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