Christmas Eve passenger trains will end at 3pm due to strikes, Network Rail has warned, with the last long-distance departures between many major cities leaving in the morning.
The last train from Edinburgh to London will leave at 8:00 a.m. and from Manchester to London at 12:15 p.m. No trains will link the capital and Nottingham or Sheffield on Christmas Eve.
Full timetables for the last trains before Christmas will be published on Tuesday, but railway bosses said it was clear timetables would be badly affected, although the RMT union said it was not targeting festive travelers during of his next strike.
Thousands of workers, including key signaling staff, will not commit to shifts between 6pm on December 24 and 6am on December 27, when Network Rail had planned around 120 million pounds sterling of engineering works. No trains run on Christmas Day and only exceptional services on Boxing Day. One of them, Eurostar, has canceled its December 26 trains.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, said: ‘RMT’s suggestions that their planned strike action over the festive period is not aimed at Christmas would be laughable if the consequences were not so painful for so many people, including including Christmas Eve.
“The RMT is causing unnecessary suffering to its own members, the railroad and the country’s economy. I am so sorry that our passengers are bearing the brunt of the unnecessary RMT strike when a fair offer is on the table and only a third of the workforce has rejected it.
“Our offer guarantees jobs and gives everyone a decent salary increase of 9% and more. Two of our three unions have already agreed and the RMT needs to think again.
The RMT has been contacted for comments.
Network Rail said the 6pm start of the action by the RMT meant passenger trains should be back in depots by then, while engineering trains should be in place earlier than the normal.
He said the strike, compounded by industrial action outside of a strike or a ban on overtime at train operators, meant some services could not run at all on Christmas Eve.
Chiltern and South Western, two of the operators most affected by the overtime ban, which began on Sunday, have reduced their hours and are offering shorter timetables and routes.
Advance tickets for December 24 across the network can be used in the previous three days or until December 29. Long-distance travelers can also cancel and rebook free of charge, to try to secure a spot.
Train services on December 27 will also start later. Four more days of rail strikes are due to begin on January 3.
No further talks between employers and unions have yet been scheduled to resolve the long-running dispute over wages and working conditions.