For those of you who are thinking of heading to the railways in the United Kingdom to travel this week… I’d consider delaying your travels until next week, as a national rail strike, impacting the rail network and rail operating companies is set to start today (Tuesday), impacting travel for the rest of the week
What might be open if we’re lucky – Image, Network Rail – https://www.networkrail.co.uk/industrial-action/
What are the strike dates?
The official strike dates are:
- Tuesday 21 June (between 00:01 and 23:59)
- Thursday 23 June (between 00:01 and 23:59)
- Saturday 25 June (between 00:01 and 23:59)
However, there will be a knock-on effect from before the strikes to way after – enough to consider writing off rail travel next week. Most operators are noting that services outside strike days will start late and finish earlier, as crews and trains will be out of position.
What routes are open?
There is a major impact on the network, with many rural and low-trafficked routes closed as you can see from the map above. Most of the mainline routes are planned to be opened, but with heavily restricted frequencies and operating hours. A high-resolution PDF map can be found here
Which train companies are impacted?
The full list (with each site’s strike notes). Some companies are not suffering strikes, however, are impacted by the Network Rail strike (such as Transport for Wales and Govia Thameslink Railway companies), whereas some companies have ceased services during strike times (such as Merseyrail).
For completeness, here are the confirmed plans of each train operating company:
- Avanti West Coast
- Caledonian Sleeper
- Chiltern Railways
- East Midlands Railway
- Elizabeth line
- Gatwick Express
- Grand Central
- Great Northern
- Great Western Railway
- Greater Anglia / Stansted Express
- Heathrow Express
- Hull Trains
- London Northwestern Railway
- London Overground
- South Western Railway / Island Line
- TransPennine Express
- Transport for London (Tube and Trams) – all day on Tuesday 21 June and until approximately 08:00 on Wednesday 22 June only.
- Transport for Wales
- West Midlands Railway
What times will trains operate… if they are?
Limited operations on these days will be from 07:30 to 18:30 during strike days. Expect the barest of bare-bones services, with capacity, with hourly or half-hourly services running, with late starting times and very early finishes.
Even during those operational hours, expect the services to start very late and finish early so journeys can be completed by 18:30.
Are services to airports impacted?
Yes. If you arrive outside the designated service hours, you will need to find an alternative way from your airport to your final destination. The reverse applies if travelling to the airport.
Serving the London Region:
- Heathrow Express is expecting services to end early on days before strike days and offer a half-hourly service between 07:30 and 18:30
- Elizabeth Line is expected to be heavily impacted
- The Piccadilly Line is expected to be impacted by the Tube Strike on Tuesday
- Gatwick Express will not operate services. Use Southern or Thameslink services instead, with two trains an hour operating on the London Victora/London Bridge to Brighton Line.
- Stansted Express will operate two trains an hour between London Liverpool Street and Stansted
The DLR to London City Airport is unaffected, however, it is expected to be a lot busier than normal.
Can I get a refund?
According to National Rail:
- Refunds: If your service has been cancelled, delayed or rescheduled, you will be entitled to a change or refund from the original retailer of your ticket.
- Changing travel plans: If you have a ticket for travel on 21, 23 or 25 June you can use this ticket either on the day before the date on the ticket or through and including the Monday and Tuesday of the following week (excluding Season Tickets). Please note if your ticket is for a journey that includes crossing London it will not be valid on London Underground services on an alternative date. Please contact the original retailer of your ticket for more information.
- Changing train company or route: To help minimise any disruption, you may be able to use your ticket on another train company or an alternative route. Please contact the train company you are due to travel with for more information
What alternatives are there – if any?
At this point of the game, it might be possible to catch a Megabus, Flixbus or National Express service, but expect them to be packed.
Local transport options such as buses and trams will feel the impact of the strikes, with them expected to be a lot busier than normal.
For those who wish to utilise taxis, rideshares or even hire a car, expect the surge rates to be your best enemy.
As for hotels and such, expect pressure on them this week too.
Plan well ahead or consider abandoning your trip
I rarely suggest abandoning a trip, but this week’s rail strike is going to have one hell of an impact on how you get from A to B this week.
If you don’t need to travel, or you can fire up that copy of Microsoft Teams/Zoom you downloaded at the start of the pandemic and work remotely, I would be doing this.
If you do need to travel, firstly keep an eye on https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/service_disruptions/industrialaction.aspx and plan your journey to the minute.
Not doing so could mean unexpected stops where you least want them to be.
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