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Christmas getaway chaos: When are train strikes in December and January and what rail networks are affected?
12 December 2022, 14:20
Millions of people are bracing themselves for major rail disruption this Christmas as RMT union bosses announce a string of 48-hours strikes, in addition to strike action by Aslef and National Rail engineering works. Here are the dates you need to know.
Network Rail, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway and many more train services will be staging long periods of strike action this December as they continue to fight for more pay, better working conditions and their pensions.
The strikes, combined with existing repair and engineering works mean travel this month, especially over the Christmas period, will become busy, chaotic and stressful.
Not only will commuters face huge struggles to get to work and to see friends and family over the festive period, especially in London, but more recently experts have warned on the impact the strikes will have on the hospitality industry too.
Bosses of pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels begged unions to call off the latest round of strikes, claiming that their businesses would lose out on more than a billion pounds if they went ahead.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, which represents the sector, said: "The sheer number of strike days that have affected Britain’s hospitality sector this year has been unprecedented and the strikes in December will no doubt be the toughest yet, with hospitality businesses set to lose £1.5 billion in sales.
Last-minute talks between the railway operators and RMT took place in early December in a bid to call off the strike action, however, they still failed to reach an agreement.
Here's the full list of strike dates, routes affected and the cost recent updates on engineering works below:
Which rail networks are affected by the strike action?
At present, the proposed strike action is still confirmed to go ahead throughout December and January.
TFL is yet to confirm any participation in accordance with the National Rail strike action, so the underground, overground and DLR lines across London's transport network should remain running - albeit busier than usual.
GTR (including Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express)
Avanti West Coast
East Midlands Railway
Great Western Railway
London North Eastern Railway
West Midlands Trains
Heathrow Express and London Northwestern Railway are also expected to be affected.
What dates are train strikes this December?
At present, the below dates are affected by the newly announced strike action.
When will engineering works be taking place?
Proposed engineering works across the Christmas period mean there will be no services from Liverpool Street station between Christmas and New Year, no Southern or Gatwick Express trains from Victoria station over the same dates, and a reduced timetable from Euston station to places like Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool between December 24-30.
This scheduled maintenance will also affect Greater Anglia, Stansted Express and c2c services. Works will also affect Greater Anglia, Stansted Express and c2c services.
Signalling and track work is also set to take place at Clapham Junction and Balham, resulting in most trains being diverted via London Bridge.
December 25 - December 31
January 1 & January 2
The works will cost a total of £120m, Network Rail said.
Planned engineering works to Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street, Birmingham International, Blackpool North, Scotland and Glasgow Central will run to a reduced timetable from London Euston
December 24 - 30
What are the knock-on effects of the strike action?
The resulting strike action is set to see mass disruption for travellers across the UK travel network.
The strike action taking place across GWR trains will see an incredibly limited service running, with the rail operator warning those planning to travel for sporting events, meetings and Christmas markets.
The strike action coincides with the opening of Bath's renowned Christmas market, meanwhile sports fans visiting Cardiff for Wales' Autumn Internationals have been warned to expect widespread delays and travel chaos.
Those travelling through major London terminals including Clapham Junction and Liverpool Street will also see major disruption. Affecting routes to-and-from major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, travellers are urged to check before travelling.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch announces four weeks of continuous industrial action
"We regret that passengers will be inconvenienced for another day. We don't want to be taking this action," said Aslef's general secretary Mick Whelan.
Meanwhile, Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said the string of strikes would send "a clear message" that rail workers want a better deal on pay and working conditions.
RMT had already warned another round of industrial action was ‘highly likely’ over the Christmas period as talks over pay and job security faltered.
Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, had previously said: “I will be recommending that we set out further phases of sustained industrial action in support of our members.
“While we will remain available for meaningful negotiations it is now obvious that the other side is unwilling or unable to progress matters appropriately, so our action will be reinstated.”
Richard Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, said the engineering work would mean "more reliable journeys" for passengers in future.
The works will provide vital improvements and routine maintenance for a more reliable railway in the long-term, Network Rail said. Network Rail carries out the work during holidays as fewer people usually travel by train.
"Christmas is an important time for the railway as it gives us the opportunity to get a lot of work done to improve the railway when trains aren't running, and therefore keep disruption for our passengers at a minimum,” he added.
The key disruption includes:
- Services to Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street, Birmingham International, Blackpool North, Scotland and Glasgow Central will run to a reduced timetable from Euston December 24-30.
- There will be no Southern or Gatwick Express trains to or from London Victoria from December 25 to January 2. Most Southern trains will run to and from London Bridge instead, with replacement buses between Clapham Junction and East Croydon.
- Cannon Street station will be closed on Christmas Eve (December 24) and some services will start or terminate at London Bridge.
- Lewisham station will also be closed on Christmas Eve and there will be no trains between New Cross, St Johns and Dartford via Bexleyheath.
- Long-distance services from Euston on the West Coast Main Line will run to a reduced timetable.
People are urged to check before they travel by visiting National Rail Enquiries or the train operator’s website.