Virgin Trains strike causes cancellations and disruption across the rail network

Passengers are urged to take food and drink on board because no catering is available

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 15 December 2017 10:24 GMT
Simon Calder at Euston station: Virgin trains strike causes cancellations and disruption across the rail network

Virgin Trains passengers at its London terminus, Euston, are facing disruption on the busiest day of the week due to a strike by on-board and station staff belonging to the RMT and TSSA unions.

The stoppage is part of a dispute over fairness relative to drivers’ employment terms; the unions it call “a fight for workplace justice and equality”

About 30 per cent of long-distance trains on the West Coast main line have been cancelled: one in three Birmingham services; the hourly links to Chester, as well as services to North Wales; Manchester via Wilmslow; and Edinburgh via Carlisle.

Travellers on trains which are running are being urged to buy snacks and drinks before their journeys, as no on-board catering is available.

Tickets are valid on alternative Virgin Trains services, or on other operators’ departures. But passengers to Scotland are being warned that some East Coast services are likely to be extremely crowded: the 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm departures from London King’s Cross.

Strikes are planned for next Friday, normally one of the busiest days of the year, and on four further dates next year.

As Christmas and New Year approaches, three other big train operators are facing strikes. CrossCountry Trains staff belonging the RMT plan to strike on 23, 24, 27 and 31 December in a dispute over rostering.

The union has also announced industrial action on Greater Anglia on 27 December and South Western Railway on New Year’s Eve.

Both these disputes are about the principle of driver-only operation and the future role of guards — which has sparked many strikes on Southern, GWR, Northern and Merseyrail over the past two years.

Flights to and from Italy are also experiencing some disruption today, due to a range of strikes by airline and airport staff. Eurocontrol says that passengers at smaller airports are more likely to face delays and cancellations than the key hubs in Rome and Milan.

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