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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Simon Calder

Passengers warned ‘do not travel’ on TransPennine Express today, as rail services unravel across Britain

Simon Calder

Six months on from the start of national rail strikes, a leading intercity train operator is warning passengers not to travel – even though there is no official stoppage today.

TransPennine Express, which connects Liverpool and Manchester with Yorkshire, northeast England and Scotland, is urging passengers “not to travel and to seek alternative means of transport”. The cause appears to be an IT failure.

Kathryn O’Brien, operations director for the train firm, said: “Due to a significant rostering system issue, today we are experiencing a high level of unplanned cancellations and disruption across our network.

“We know this will have a significant impact on customers travelling with us today and sincerely apologise for any disruption caused.

“We are working hard internally and with our system provider to resolve the situation as soon as possible.”

The TransPennine Express website is showing 110 train cancellations already today. It is not clear if the problems will continue over the coming days.

The train firm is saying: “Customers with a ticket valid for travel today can travel either tomorrow (Thursday 22 Dec) or Friday (23 Dec).”

On Avanti West Coast, which connects London Euston with the West Midlands, northwest England and southern Scotland, dozens of express trains have been cancelled or curtailed “due to a shortage of train crew”.

Surviving services are often taking longer because of making additional stops to pick up and drop off passengers from cancelled trains.

An overtime ban by members of the RMT union has caused widespread disruption on other services. Chiltern Railways has suspended its entire Midlands network until 8 January due to resourcing issues.

South Western Railway is running a drastically reduced service to and from its hub at London Waterloo – normally the busiest station in Britain.

Trains are running only from 7am to 10pm, at reduced frequencies, and some parts of the network have no services at all.

Across Britain, passengers have been urged to complete their journeys before Christmas Eve because of the next impending national rail strike.

Members of the RMT union who work for Network Rail are walking out from 6pm on 24 December until 6am on 27 December.

Travellers planning to catch trains on Christmas Eve are being urged to travel only “if absolutely necessary, and if possible to consider travelling another day”.

Last trains are leaving as early as 8am and some locations will see no services at all, including the East Midlands line from Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester to London.

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