Rail strikes: Train firm cancels Midlands half of route network for nearly a month

As members of the RMT union prepare for the next national rail strike, one leading train operator has announced it will close half its rail network as a result of industrial action – for 26 days in a row.

Chiltern Railways, which runs trains to and from London Marylebone station, will stop running on the Midlands part of its network from 13 December – when the next 48-hour strike begins – until 8 January inclusive.

For almost a month, no Chiltern services will run north of Banbury in Oxfordshire. The 24 stations affected include the important Birmingham stations of Snow Hill and Moor Street, as well as Kidderminster, Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon.

The stations will continue to be served by other operators, subject to industrial action.

A spokesperson for Chiltern said: “We are disappointed to have to reduce our services significantly over the festive period due to industrial action by the RMT, and wholeheartedly apologise for the disruption this will cause our customers at such an important time of the year.

“The disruption will be substantial, and customers should only travel on our services if absolutely essential.”

The most protracted and disruptive rail strikes since 1989 will begin on 13 December and involve industrial action on a total of 12 days, stretching into the New Year.

The strikes that aim at disrupting passenger trains involve a series of four 48-hour stoppages: 13-14 and 16-17 December, plus 3-4 and 6-7 January.

In addition, RMT members working for Network Rail will walk out for 60 hours from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on 27 December.

The aim is to scupper engineering projects scheduled for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. No passenger trains are scheduled to run on 25 or 26 December.

During next week’s two strikes, and on the intervening day (15 December), Chiltern will run a limited service from 8am to 4pm on the rest of its network.

On Sunday 18 December – the day after the second planned 48-hour strike – there will be no Chiltern Railways services on any route.

The train firm’s spokesperson said: “The overtime ban in place has put immense pressure on our train maintenance depots, and this has resulted in us having to offer a reduced service throughout the whole period of industrial action and the day after the action ends.

“In particular, it has forced us to close our train maintenance depots on Sunday 18 December, and as such, we will not be able to operate a service on this day. We have exhausted all options, and this is not a decision that has been taken lightly.

“We apologise to customers for the inconvenience that this will cause.”

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