Driving home for Christmas - rail strikes lead many to ditch Christmas plans

Driving home for Christmas  - Rail Strikes lead many to ditch Christmas plans <i>(Image: NQ Staff)</i>
Driving home for Christmas - Rail Strikes lead many to ditch Christmas plans (Image: NQ Staff)

As further rail strikes over the Christmas period have been announced, thousands of people’s Christmas plans have been turned upside down.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) has announced further strike action over the Christmas period, forecast to cause problems on the rail network over the festive season.

These strikes come amid continued disagreements over pay and working conditions. The union is expected to walk out between 24 and 27 December, along with already-announced action on 13-14 December, 16-17 December, and in the new year between 3-4 January, and 6-7 January.

Christmas is a family affair for many, with thousands travelling nationally to see loved ones over the holiday.

Lynda Tullet is retired and told The Argus that her Christmas will be a lonelier affair compared to normal.

The 75 year old said: “I won’t be able to be with my grandchildren at Christmas, I’ll be home alone thanks to rail strikes.

"One of my daughters and family live in Plymouth. That's where I was heading for Christmas."

"I think I'm luckier than most."

She says at least she'll be able to catch up on Christmas TV. "I'm looking forward to Call the Midwife"

Posting on Facebook, Julia Stofa says she “won’t see her daughter at Christmas” following the strike action.

Despite this, the strikes aren’t all bad news for some. Andrea Potter has said the strikes work in their favour.

She said: “It’s going to be a cheap Christmas as my son can’t get back from university”

Some people worry they might not be able to take the train to spend Christmas with their loved ones, instead resorting to other options such as taking the bus or driving to make it in time.

GTR chief operating officer Angie Doll said: “We're really sorry for the enormous inconvenience this RMT action will cause to all of our customers during next week's two 48-hour strikes.

Regrettably, we are asking customers to travel only if absolutely necessary, and check service information for their local station as some routes, once again, won’t have trains at all."

Downing Street has insisted it is planning to bring in a new law to require minimum service levels on the railway.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “We recognise no legislation will be in place to mitigate against the disruption we’re expecting to see next week.”

Downing Street has urged the RMT to take the offer seriously.

“These additional strikes scheduled over Christmas mean the RMT risk driving away more people from the railways at a time when passengers and businesses should be taking advantage of this festive period.”