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Strikes and engineering work to disrupt festive rail travel

Railway signal

Rail services are set to be disrupted over the next two weeks by a series of strikes and planned engineering works.

Unions have called 24-hour stoppages for workers at Virgin Trains West Coast on Friday, December 22, Greater Anglia on Wednesday, December 27, and South Western Railway on Sunday, December 31.

While the RMT union has called four days of strikes on the Cross Country train franchise on December 23, 24, 27 and 31.

More disruption will also be caused by Network Rail closing some lines as it carries out more than 260 engineering projects across the UK over the festive holidays.

Network Rail said in a statement: “In some parts of the country, work will begin on Saturday, December 23, this year to give engineers four clear days to make uninterrupted progress on vital projects, so passengers should check their journeys for this coming weekend in advance.

Overall, there will be less disruption for rail users this Christmas as the majority of work has been scheduled for when no trains are planned to run, such as on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

“The majority of the rail network remains open for business however, with approximately 95 per cent unaffected by the investment programme.”

Workers for Virgin Trains West Coast are also due to strike on four more days in the new year - on January 5, 8, 26 and 29.

Virgin Trains said it planned to run the “majority” of its services on the five strike days, including December 22, although there will be no onboard catering on these days as it concentrates on running as many trains as possible.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said of the dispute with Virgin; “RMT officials have made it clear that we are prepared to meet anytime, any place, anywhere to push talks forwards but we have been snubbed at every turn by the Virgin management.

“The union will be pressing again for talks through ACAS today as the clock ticks down towards Friday's action. 

"Our members are angry and determined as they showed in the rock solid action across the franchise in the first in a scheduled series of strikes last week. Despite Virgin spin they were reduced to running little more than half of their services on the official measures.”

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