Rail services will continue to be disrupted this week despite strikes being called off last minute, with some commuters being left stranded and charged double the amount to travel. Transport union RMT announced on Friday that rail strikes had been called off for November 5, 7, and 11 after rail bosses agreed to enter extensive negotiations over pay and working conditions for rail workers. But despite this, passengers are being warned to check with travel operators before travelling as some services are running on a reduced timetable due to the change coming at such short notice.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) were set to stage walkouts in the coming few days in a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.
Angry commuters are being forced to change their plans as the online ticket seller Trainline has issued a warning that train operators are advising customers to only travel if necessary.
One commuter, Lucinda Hawksley, shared a screenshot showing a nine-hour bus replacement service that has been offered as an alternative to her original journey.
She wrote on Twitter: “Allegedly the rail strike has been cancelled…? Does anyone want to join me on a nine-hour rail replacement bus journey? If you want to go first class, @thetrainline is offering you that chance for a mere £135.80.”
Trainline has hit back at customers complaining over increased prices on the strike days, saying the train operators are the ones who “set the prices”.
Meanwhile, a customer looking to travel to London Euston from Stoke-on-Trent has shared updated prices for tomorrow, November 8, with the cheapest ticket seemingly coming in at £148.50 with Avanti West Coast.
Peter, from Stoke-on-Trent, wrote on Twitter: “Thankfully there are no strikes, although there are no trains. I couldn’t afford these prices anyway.”
However, someone travelling from Stoke-on-Trent to London Euston next week will be able to get a direct train for £39.40 – down by £109.10.
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Speaking to Express.co.uk, Peter said: “I fancied a day out to London as a tourist tomorrow. I am a senior railcard holder and wouldn’t even contemplate trying to travel during the RMT’s disruptive tactics…..not worth the risk of disruption aside. The cost of rail travel between Stoke on Trent and London (West Coast Line between London and Manchester) has become prohibitive for all but business travellers since Avanti West took over the franchise.
“This is apart from a vast increase in travel disruption/cancelled trains on their watch We as a nation seem to be suffering. The advantages of rail travel are certainly becoming hard to recognise.”
Express.co.uk has approached Avanti West Coast for comment.
On their website, a spokesperson for the train operator said: “We are pleased that the RMT has called off its strike action for Saturday 5, Monday 7, and Wednesday 9 November. Due to the short notice, it’s not possible to make major changes to our timetable on these days and we advise customers to check their journey before they travel. Alternatively, customers with tickets dated for 5 to 10 November can claim a refund or use their ticket up until 12 November.”
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Meanwhile, another customer shared long queues on the platform at Orpington in southeast London.
Writing on Twitter, user @AVFCbunners said: “@Se_Railway strikes, no strikes, yet we still queue for the train at Orpington! I’ve missed my first train and I wonder how many others I will miss! You are a joke of a service! Oh, and you will still put your prices up!”
The union said the dispute remains “very much live” and it is continuing its re-ballot of members to secure a fresh mandate for action with the result due on 15 November.
Talks will now be held over the next few weeks to try to resolve the dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.