Rail passengers have been warned to prepare for "significantly disrupted" travel into the New Year amid a wave of industrial unrest sweeping across the country.
The Network Rail warning came as members of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) at CrossCountry staged a 24-hour strike from 9pm on Boxing Day as part of a long-running campaign for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, no unagreed changes to terms and conditions, and a pay increase which addresses the rising cost of living.
Network Rail have urged people to plan ahead and check before they depart as "industrial action means rail travel will be significantly disrupted throughout December and January". The 48-hour strike called by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) in a separate dispute over jobs, pay and conditions which began on Christmas Eve runs to Tuesday at 6am.
Those travelling to see loved ones either side of Christmas Day by train may have been affected, including people who now want to travel by rail as the long weekend ends. The TSSA union believes that walkouts by staff will severely affect services at CrossCountry, which covers large swathes of the country, from Penzance to the Midlands, Wales and northern England through to Scottish cities as far north as Aberdeen.
TSSA members work in roles in customer service management, driver management, training, control, customer communications, safety, timetabling and planning. Managers are based at stations including Edinburgh, Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Bournemouth and Plymouth.
TSSA members at Great Western Railway will strike from noon on Wednesday to 11.59am on Thursday, and at West Midlands Trains from noon on Wednesday to noon on Thursday. On Monday, the TSSA tweeted a message of "solidarity" to its CrossCountry members.
It said: "Rail workers are seeking basic fair treatment: not to be sacked from their jobs; a fair pay rise in the face of a cost-of-living-crisis & no detriment to terms & conditions."
TSSA members at Great Western Railway are to strike from noon on Wednesday to 11.59am on Thursday, and at West Midlands Trains from noon on Wednesday to noon on Thursday. Earlier, TSSA organising director Nadine Rae said: "Our members at CrossCountry do not want to strike, especially over the Christmas holiday period, but they are sick and tired of being taken for granted.
"They deserve a pay rise to help manage the escalating cost of living, and they rightly demand job security. The company, like all the train operators under the control of the Department for Transport, need to face up to the fact that only serious offers which meet our aspirations will end this dispute."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "After two years of virtual Christmases, the British public deserve better than to have their festive celebrations impacted by strikes.
"The Transport Secretary and Rail Minister have worked hard to facilitate a fair and reasonable offer, which two unions have accepted, and it is incredibly disappointing that some continue to strike. We urge them to step back, reconsider and get back round the table, so we can start 2023 by ending this damaging dispute."
Find recommendations for eating out, attractions and events near you here on our sister website 2Chill
Find recommendations for dog owners and more doggy stories on our sister site Teamdogs