abandoned uk railway tracks

Railway engineering works threaten bank holiday getaways

Image credit: Dreamstime

Rail passengers hoping to embark on a bank holiday break this weekend face disruption due to strike action and engineering projects.

TransPennine Express (TPE), which operates across northern England and into Scotland, urged passengers not to travel on Saturday or Sunday due to a walkout by conductors who are members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

TPE has said it will only run “a very small number of services” on those days. The industrial action is part of a long-running dispute over pay and rosters. The RMT has said the strike aims to achieve “pay justice for hard-working staff”.

TPE customer experience director Kathryn O’Brien said: “With further action by RMT taking place this weekend, we are urging customers once again to avoid travel on our services and travel either side of the weekend instead.

“We are saddened and disappointed that this disruption will mean we are unable to get our customers to where they want to be this bank holiday weekend.”

TPE is also carrying out engineering work in the Motherwell area, which means that none of its trains will run between Carlisle and Glasgow Central or Edinburgh.

Several other major UK rail lines will be closed over the early May bank holiday period as Network Rail carries out 550 upgrade projects. No trains will operate between London Euston and Milton Keynes on Saturday, Sunday or Monday due to work on the West Coast Main Line and for HS2.

Passengers planning journeys between London Euston and Scotland are advised to travel either side of the long weekend.

Also affecting rail travel in the capital, no Southern trains will serve London Victoria over the three-day period due to ongoing track and signalling upgrades at the station. Most services will be diverted to London Bridge, with limited rail-replacement buses between East Croydon/Balham and Clapham Junction for local journeys.

Stansted Airport will not be served by direct trains from the capital between Saturday and Monday because of engineering work at Bishops Stortford. Buses will replace Stansted Express trains between Waltham Cross and the airport.

Passengers are being urged to allow more time for their journeys or consider other travel options such as car, coach or taxi. The journey between London Liverpool Street and Stansted airport by train and bus will take an estimated 90 minutes, compared with the usual 50 minutes when direct rail services are running.

Despite the gloomy travel picture, Network Rail said that more than 95 per cent of the rail network will be unaffected by the work taking place.

Chief executive Andrew Haines said: “While the majority of our network will be open for business as usual, we’re asking passengers who are planning to use the railway over the early May bank holiday to check their journey in advance.

“Teams across Network Rail will be delivering £70m worth of upgrades, helping to make the railway more reliable and fit for the future.”

In good news for travellers, the UK road network is expected to be quieter than normal for a bank holiday weekend, with the longer Easter break having only just passed, the school half-term coming up in a few weeks and with many drivers still cautious about taking long journeys due to the high fuel prices.

The RAC said that Monday is likely to see the most traffic, with approximately 3.3 million leisure journeys planned.

A survey of 850 motorists indicated that 14 per cent do not plan to make a road journey for a day trip or holiday over the long weekend because of the cost of fuel. This is compared with just 6 per cent who did not drive over Easter for the same reason.

Filling a typical 55-litre family car with petrol is nearly £20 more expensive compared with 12 months ago, while the cost of a tank of diesel has risen by more than £25.

A poll of 2,400 customers by automotive classified advertising business Auto Trader suggested 38 per cent of people are less likely to go on a UK holiday this year compared with 2021. Around 85 per cent of that group blamed the decision on fuel costs.

Bank holiday travellers already experienced delay and frustration earlier this month, with major works on Britain's road and rail network undertaken across the Easter weekend, the travel situation compounded further by issues around cross-Channel ferry services.

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