Train passengers have been warned to expect severe disruption to intercity train services to and from Manchester by a major rail operator as industrial action on the railways continues.
TransPennine Express (TPE) has said it will be able to run only a “handful” of services on three days in early October when strike action and action short of a strike is taking place.
Among the events that will be affected are Manchester City’s Champions League tie with FC Copenhagen, which TPE has said fans should not plan to travel to by train.
Trade unions have called on operators to reach negotiated solutions to bring the industrial action, which has now been going on for several months,to an end.
When are the strike dates and how is TPE affected?
TPE runs services connecting Manchester Piccadilly with Hull and Manchester Airport with Newcastle, Redcar and Middlesborough.
It also runs services between Sheffield and Manchester and connections along the West Coast Main Line from the city to Preston, Oxenholme, Carlisle, Penrith, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The strike days will reduce the timetable to next to nothing. TPE says it will be operating a “handful” of services on each of these dates and said passengers should only plan to make journeys that are absolutely essential.
There will then be further action by Aslef, along with action short of a strike by the TSSA, on Wednesday 5 October.
And members of the RMT and TSSA unions will also be on strike on Saturday 8 October.
On the days following each strike date there will also be a reduced timetable, with trains starting earlier and finishing later than normal.
Anyone who does not have a choice but to travel has been warned to leave extra time for their journeys and to expect further delays and cancellations.
There will also be no bikes allowed on TPE services on the three strike days and the three days following the industrial action.
The timetables for the days when services are limited can be viewed on the TPE website here.
What has the train operator said?
Kathryn O’Brien, customer service and operations director at TransPennine Express, said: “The upcoming industrial action by the rail unions will cause severe disruption to services right across the country, and because of this, we will only be able to operate a handful of services for customers on selected routes, with the days following the strikes also affected.
“We are strongly recommending customers avoid travel unless their journey is absolutely essential on 1, 2, 5, 6 and 8 and 9 October and seek alternative transport instead.”
What have the trade unions said?
The TSSA’s industrial action involves members working at Network Rail and for 11 different train operating companies across the country.
It is taking place in early October after action in September was suspended following the death of the Queen.
The union says it is seeking a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, a pay rise which meets the cost-of-living crisis and no unagreed changes to terms and conditions.
TSSA general secretary, Manuel Cortes, said: “We do not take this action lightly. We would much rather find a fair negotiated solution to this now long-running dispute, but we simply have no choice.
“A huge number of rail workers in our union, many of whom are longstanding members, had never been directly involved in an industrial dispute before this year.
“Across our railways, our members recently stepped up to the plate yet again and went above and beyond to meet unprecedented demand during the period of public mourning to provide additional services and keep the public safe, much like they did during the pandemic. They prove their worth time and time again and yet they are still undervalued.
“We can only hope the new Secretary of State for Transport can see sense where her predecessor could not. She has the power to mandate a fair pay rise, reasonable terms and conditions and end this dispute. It is time for train operators to meet us round the table and reach fair solutions.”
The RMT’s action is similarly taking place across the country with more than a dozen train operators involved. The union says it is battling for job security, wages and working conditions, particularly as the UK faces a cost of living crisis.
The union’s general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Transport workers are joining a wave of strike action on October 1, sending a clear message to the government and employers that working people will not accept continued attacks on pay and working conditions at a time when big business profits are at an all-time high.
”The Summer of Solidarity we have seen will continue into the autumn and winter if employers and the government continue to refuse workers reasonable demands.
“We want a settlement to these disputes where our members and their families can get a square deal. And we will not rest until we get a satisfactory outcome.”