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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Simon Calder

Train misery as engineering work adds to rail strike woes

Network Rail

Train passengers trying to swerve the many rail strikes taking place in October face further problems with widespread Network Rail engineering work set to block key intercity lines.

After the biggest national rail strike on Saturday, Monday saw a near-normal service on Britain’s network ahead of further strikes over the coming week (5 and 8 October).

But two intercity lines are temporarily closed for around a week.

The link between Newcastle and Edinburgh is blocked until 10 October week due to upgrade work between the Tyneside city and Morpeth in Northumberland. It will affect CrossCountry, LNER, Lumo and TransPennine Express trains.

Some services are being diverted via Carlisle, with journey times extended by 90 minutes, while others are simply cancelled north of Newcastle (or, in some cases, Darlington or York).

LNER, the leading Anglo-Scottish train operator, warns: “On Monday 10 October, in the unlikely event that the work is not complete, there may be some last minute cancellations and changes. Please check before you travel.”

In southwest England, the normal fast line from London Paddington to Exeter via Westbury and Taunton is shut until 13 October. Great Western Railway is running trains via Bristol Temple Meads, adding at least 30 minutes to journey times.

From 22 to 30 October it will be the turn of a key stretch of the West Coast main line to be shut: between Rugby and Stafford. This link, known as the Trent Valley line, will shut completely – affecting services between London and northwest England, North Wales and southern Scotland.

Avanti West Coast warns passengers: “Most trains between Liverpool Lime Street and London will run between Liverpool Lime Street and Stafford only.

“Other train services will be diverted to run on alternative routes, and may run earlier or later than usual.”

In addition, North Wales services will start and end at Crewe, while no trains will run to/from Shrewsbury.

A spokesperson for Avanti West Coast said: “While Network Rail carry out these major works, we’ll be operating an amended timetable and journeys to and from London Euston will take longer.

“We strongly advise customers making journeys between 22 and 30 October to plan ahead and check the Avanti West Coast website before travelling.”

The next nationwide strike takes place on Wednesday 5 October. Train drivers belonging to Aslef and working for 13 rail firms will stop work.

The train operators affected are Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway; Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Northern, Southeastern, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

Industrial action by members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association and Unite will affect some services on Thursday and Friday, before another national strike by the RMT union closes half the rail network and stops 80 per cent of trains on Saturday 8 October.

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