UK

Bank Holiday Rail Strike May Have Been Cancelled, But Still Expect Chaos And Confusion

21/05/2015 16:45 BST | Updated 21/05/2015 17:59 BST
Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
File photo dated 09/10/2013 of workers wearing Network Rail vests. A second rail workers union is holding a strike ballot after rejecting a pay offer from Network Rail.

Commuters and football fans still face chaos and confusion this bank holiday weekend, despite the last-minute announcement that the planned rail strike will not go ahead.

Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) union and Royal Maritime and Transport (RMT) union announced on Thursday that their planned industrial action had been cancelled - only to leave travellers facing growing uncertainty as to where they now stand.

In a dispute over pay with Network Rail, members of the RMT and TSSA were due to strike for 24 hours from 5pm on Monday, with the more significant impact on travellers expected on Tuesday morning.

Football fans leaving Wembley after the Championship play-off final, due to kick off at 3pm on Monday, were also due to be significantly affected.

The walkout was cancelled on Thursday, but the announcement came a little late as travellers have already made alternative arrangements, with coach travel bookings soaring by nearly 220%.

Virgin Trains originally said that their services would be suspended whether the strike went ahead or not.

However, after facing a torrent of Twitter complaints and questions, the train operation announced that normal service would resume on Monday and Tuesday.

Virgin Trains said that they will be releasing more information imminently for passengers who are requesting refunds and have made alternative travel arrangements.

First Great Western confirmed that they would be expecting to run a full service on Monday and Tuesday.

TSSA leaders, and officials from RMT have spent the last four days in talks with Network Rail at the conciliation service Acas.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, said: "Our negotiating team at Acas has received a revised offer from Network Rail.

"As a result of this, they have suspended the planned industrial action, pending the outcome of a meeting of our workplace representatives next week."

manuel cortes

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA, said he the union wants to settle the pay dispute out of court after they were threatened with legal action

Network Rail was due to mount a legal challenge in the High Court later today against the TSSA's strike ballot.

Lawyers for Network Rail halted plans to take legal action against the TSSA in the light of developments.

Bruce Carr QC, for Network Rail, told a judge at a High Court hearing in London that Network Rail was not proceeding with an application for an injunction.

He told Mr Justice Jay: "There has been progress."

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The Fate Of Bank Holiday Travel Could Now Rest In The Courts

Bank Holiday Travellers And Football Fans May Just Have Got A Break

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Following the Acas talks, RMT has received a revised offer that enables us to suspend the planned industrial action while we consult in full with our Network Rail representatives."

mick cash

RMT general secretary, Mick Cash (centre), protesting earlier this year against the rising costs of rail travel

The breakthrough came as workers, businesses and rail passengers were urged to prepare for the expected travel chaos if the strike by thousands goes ahead.

Passengers were advised to take alternative routes following the unions' announcement that they would strike.

As a result, the number of coach bookings ahead of the Network Rail strike skyrocketed.

There has been a 219% increase in people booking coach tickets across the country as the UK's rails were expected to grind to a halt on Monday and Tuesday.

Millions of travellers faced chaos in what was considered the most disruptive industrial action in living memory.

GoEuro, a train, coach and air search engine, collated the figures.

CEO of GoEuro, Naren Shaam, said: "Millions of rail journeys take place across the UK every day, highlighting a huge dependence on the railway in our daily lives.

"While the industrial action does have an impact on how we travel, Brits can also depend on the extensive coach and air networks available to them."

The strike itself received mixed reactions. While some championed the unions' cause, others were angry their bank holiday weekend plans had been ruined.

Services train companies hope to run following the strike suspension:

Virgin West Coast -Original timetabled services are reinstated for Monday and Tuesday. More information on refunds and alternative travel arrangements to be released later.

London Midland - The company will be running its planned services on all routes on both Monday and Tuesday.

ScotRail - Services will run as normal on Monday and Tuesday.

Southern - A usual bank holiday service will run on Monday and a normal service on Tuesday.

CrossCountry - All services will run as booked on Monday and Tuesday.

South West Trains - The planned service will run on Monday and Tuesday.

First Great Western - Expects to run its full advertised timetable on Monday and Tuesday.

Network Rail strike