New Year’s travel chaos looms as rail strikes hit

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A CrossCountry train
A CrossCountry trainImage copyright PA

A 24-hour strike is expected to cause disruption on some of the UK’s main railway lines on New Year’s Eve.

A walkout by Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) members will see delays and cancellations on South Western Railway (SWR) and CrossCountry networks.

The union says it is striking over concerns about rosters, Sunday working and guards on trains.

The government has accused the union of causing “misery” for passengers.

Long-running dispute

Sunday’s strike will disrupt services to and from London Waterloo, the country’s busiest station.

Managing director of South Western, Andy Mellors, said: “We will do everything we can to keep our passengers moving during this unnecessary strike but passengers are warned to check before travelling and be prepared for queues if travelling back from the New Year’s Eve fireworks.”

CrossCountry is planning to run a reduced service between Newcastle and Edinburgh. There will not be a service between Glasgow and Aberdeen.

All other CrossCountry lines are expected to run normally.

The RMT union is planning more strikes in January on South Western, Southern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and Arriva Rail North.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It’s the continuing failure of the train companies and their political puppet masters in government to make any attempt whatsoever to resolve the range of separate disputes over rail safety that has led us to call this further action.”

He added: “The responsibility for the disruption that will be caused lays fairly and squarely at their door.”

‘Show some decency’

Rail minister Paul Maynard said: “It is disgraceful that the RMT is seeking to cause misery to paying customers trying to get home to family and friends for the new year.

“Rail companies are working hard to keep passengers moving, and plan to run the majority of services, but we call on the RMT to show some decency and call off these strikes.”

Over the Christmas period, snow and ice caused severe disruption to road, rail and air travel.

However, in good news for some travellers, wintry conditions are set to ease into drier and milder weather.

This should improve conditions for drivers as they head to celebrations around the country.

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