Hundreds of trains were canceled on Friday ahead of the national railway strike on Saturday

Since early October, rail passengers have experienced the most intense industrial action in four decades, with strikes disrupting many journeys. The disruption will continue through the weekend.

Another national rail strike involving more than 40,000 members of the RMT union takes place on Saturday 8 October.

But before that hundreds of trains were canceled due to local disputes, staff shortages and technical problems.

Several strikes specifically for train operators are taking place on Friday in a series of disputes over pay. East Midlands Railway staff who belong to the Unite union are walking out.

The train company, which operates services from Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester to London St Pancras, warns: “Only travel by rail if absolutely necessary and if you do travel, expect severe disruption.”

At Great Western Railway, a strike by managers and office workers belonging to the TSSA will reduce operations to an “extremely reduced service” on Friday.

“All journeys must be completed before 7pm,” says the train company. No trains will run west of Plymouth all day and the first connection from London Paddington to Swansea will be this afternoon.

The Night Riviera Sleeper between London and Penzance is cancelled.

In addition, some trains serving Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton airports have been canceled due to a combination of strike action, staff shortages and technical faults.

Saturday will see another national rail strike by members of the RMT union in a long and bitter dispute over working conditions, jobs and pay.

Half of the railways in Great Britain will close completely as 5,000 signalmen leave the network, while services on lines that are open will be greatly reduced. Only about one in five trains will run.

The RMT says ministers are “planning the biggest attack on your pay and working conditions for 20 years, amid a cost of living crisis”.

The government, rail networks and train operators say pay rises are only affordable if the railway becomes more efficient – ​​to offset the collapse in ticket revenue from the Covid crisis.

Rail Minister Kevin Foster he tweeted: “While [passenger] The numbers are rising, our railways have yet to recover from the pandemic and strikes are jeopardizing progress and turning passengers away when we need them most.

“We need to create a sustainable railway for the future.”

Meanwhile, Avanti West Coast, which operates trains from London Euston to the West Midlands, north-west England and southern Scotland, is extending its franchise by six months until April 2023.

Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “We have agreed a six-month extension of Avanti to assess whether it is able to run this critical route on a standard route that passengers deserve and expect.”

He said the train operator “needs to do more to provide certainty of service to its passengers”.

Avanti West Coast, a joint venture between FirstGroup and Italian national rail company Trenitalia, is currently running an emergency timetable due to staffing issues.

Graham Sutherland, chief executive of FirstGroup, said: “Today’s agreement allows our team at Avanti West Coast to maintain its focus on delivering a strong plan to restore services to the levels passengers rightly expect.”

On Saturday, during the RMT strike, Avanti West Coast is planning one train an hour from London Euston to Manchester, Liverpool and Preston, with a limited service and then on to Glasgow.

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