Things are not going well for Network Rail: having tried everything in its arsenal to prevent a planned strike by workers in the RMT union over pay and jobs, yesterday it resorted to sending threatening legal letters. Not exactly a sign of power.
As workers continue a fourth day of emergency talks with their employer, here's everything you need to know about the planned strike.
When will the strike take place?
Although the two sides remain in talks with the RMT considering a new Network Rail offer, the industrial action is slated for Monday 25 May and Tuesday 26 May.
I've already bought a ticket. What do I do?
National Rail has already given us some details about changes to ticketing.
- If you have bought an Anytime, Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak ticket for travel on Monday 25 or Tuesday 26 May, you can use your ticket to travel on Sunday 24 or Wednesday 27 May instead, "subject to any travel restrictions that would normally apply to your ticket on those days", says National Rail.
- If you have an Advance ticket for travel on Monday 25 or Tuesday 26 May, you can still travel on either Sunday 24 or Wednesday 27 May instead. If you do choose to do that, though, you must use the same train service you would have used on the 25 or 26 May, or the services immediately before or after that one.
- If you're a season ticket holder, you're entitled to compensation. National Rail recommends checking with your train company.
- Additionally, if you have a ticket valid for either of the strike days and decide against travelling, the retailer that sold you your ticket will provide you with a full refund, or you can exchange it for another ticket (although you may have to pay more if it's more expensive).
Which services will be affected?
All of them (click on the links to be taken to the train companies' own industrial action pages):
- Abellio Greater AngliaNo services after midday on Monday, no services at all on Tuesday except an "extremely limited, skeleton service" between London and Norwich, London and Colchester, London and Shenfield and London and Stansted Airport in the middle of the day.
On Wednesday, services will start operating on all routes from 6am.
- Arriva Trains Wales
Services will start to "run down" from 2.30pm on Monday, with no services at all after 5pm. No services all day between Shrewsbury and Birmingham, Crewe and Wrexham, Chester and Wrexham, Manchester and Crewe, Wrexham and Bidston, Newport and Hereford and Lydney and Cheltenham.
There will be an hourly service until 2.30pm between Hereford and Shrewsbury (calling all stations), Holyhead and Chester (calling all stations - but no Virgin services), Crewe and Manchester (calling Sandbach, Alderley Edge and Wilmslow).
On Tuesday, there will be no services, other than one train per hour from Rhymney to Cardiff Bay, one train per hour from Bargoed to Cardiff Bay, two trains per hour from Cardiff to Severn Tunnel Junction, and one train per hour from Crewe to Manchester (calling Sanbach, Alderley Edge and Wilmslow).
On Wednesday, normal services are anticipated from midnight in Wales, and from 6am or later in the English border areas.
Not much information from c2c, other than "services will be severely disrupted", from 3pm on Monday and throughout Tuesday.
- Caledonian Sleeper and Scotrail
On Monday, only the following services will run: two trains per hour from Glasgow Central to Paisley Gilmour Street, two trains per hour from Glasgow Central to Newton via Maxwell Park, two trains per hour from Glasgow Central to Neilston via Queens Park.
On both days, only these services will run: one train every 15 minutes between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Falkirk High, with additional calls at Lenzie and Bishopbriggs every half hour; two trains per hour from Edinburgh to Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes; one train per hour between Edinburgh and Cowdenbeath - Glenrothes; two trains per hour from Glasgow Central to East Kilbride; one train per hour from Glasgow Queen St (high level) to Anniesland; two trains per hour from Glasgow Queen St (high level) to Cumbernauld.
- Chiltern Railways
The line has published some helpful maps showing which stations will be served, when.
On Monday, Chiltern says trains will "start later and finish earlier" than usual. It will operate a service to all major stations starting from Birmingham Moor Street from 8am until 4pm, although services will not call at Hatton, Lapworth, Kings Sutton or Wembley Station. No trains will service Birmingham Snow Hill, or stations between Stourbridge and Birmingham Snow Hill.
It will operate a reduced frequency service between Bicester North and London between 7.30am and 5pm - services won't call at Wembley Stadium (unfortunately for football fans) , South Ruislip, Northold Park and both Sudbury stations. Trains will not run between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury and Little Kimble and Monks Risborough stations won't receive any service.
There will be a service between Aylesbury Vale Parkway and London between 7.30am and 5pm, although some trains won't call at Rickmansworth.
On Tuesday, there will be a service from all major stations starting from Birmingham Moor Street from 8am until approximately 4pm. Trains won't call at Hatton, Lapworth or Kings Sutton. No trains to Birmingham Snow Hill.
Again, there will be a reduced service between Bicester North and London between 7.30am and 10pm, with a gap in the service to and from Marylebone between 5pm and 7pm when no trains will leave. Services won't call at Wembley Stadium, South Ruislip, Northolt Park and Sudbury, and won't run between Princes Risborough and Aylebury, and Little Kimble and Monks Risborough won't have any service.
Finally, there will be a reduced frequency service between Aylesbury and London between 7.30am and 10pm, with a gap in the service between 5pm and 7pm, and some trains won't call at Rickmansworth.
The service will have a revised timetable in place. On both Monday and Tuesday, trains between Plymouth and Bristol Temple Meads will start at 7.25am and run every hour until 5pm, while trains in the reverse direction will start at 6.45am, then 8.45am, then run every hour until 5pm. On the Derby to Newcastle via Leeds line, trains will start at 8.11am and run every hour until 3.11pm. Going the other way, they'll start at 8.35am and run every hour until 3.35pm.
There's a map of which routes are running here.
- East Midlands Trains
Lots of changes to East Midlands' timetable, although the good news is that on Monday there will be a "near normal" service until 8-8.30pm on trains between Matlock and Nottingham and Newark Castle, Derby and Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent and Uttoxeter, Nottingham and Worksop, Shirebrook, Mansfield and Hucknall, Lincoln and Newark, Nottingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Sileby and Syston, Newark Northgate and Grimsby and Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham, Sheffield, Stockport and Manchester.
Services between Doncaster and Peterborough, Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln will start at 7am and finish at 6.30pm, while services between Norwich and Nottingham, Granthan, Peterborough and Ely will finish at midday. And there will be no service between Nottingham and Skegness, Boston, Sleaford and Grantham.
Between London and Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester, trains will start running "far later than usual and finish earlier than usual".
On Tuesday, London to Sheffield, Derby, Nottigham and Leicester services will be the same, starting later and finishing earlier than normal.
There will be no service at all between Derby and Crewe/Stoke on Trent/Uttoxeter; Nottingham and Skegness/Boston/Sleaford/Grantham; Doncaster and Peterborough/Spalding/Sleadford/Lincoln; Newark and Northgate/Grimsby; Norwich and Nottingham/Grantham/Peterborough and Ely and Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham/Sheffield/Stockport and Manchester.
Services will run between Mansfield Woodhouse and Nottingham, Leicester and Nottingham and Matlock and Nottingham between 7am and 7pm.
If the strike goes ahead, services 9004, 9080 and 9110 from London are likely to be cancelled on Tuesday, as well as Continental service 9019. Eurostar said it will be able to “reaccommodate passengers onto other services either later in the day (Tuesday) or on the previous day (Monday).
- First Great Western
Services will operate a reduced timetable between 7.30am and 6.30pm on both Monday and Tuesday.
Fast services between Paddington and Didcot will run every half hour, on top of a slow service every half hour. Non-stop trains to reading will operate every half hour, as will stopping services. Branch line services to Bourne End and Marlow and Windsor will run every 20-30 minutes.
Services between Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads will run once an hour, with extra stops at Weston-Super-Mare and Taunton during peak hours, while trains between Swindon and Bristol will operate on an hourly basis. Trains from Bristol Parkway to Weston-Super-Mare will run hourly.
Meanwhile, in Wales, Paddington to Swansea trains on Monday and Cardiff trains on Tuesday will operate hourly, while Cardiff to Taunton trains will operate hourly.
Finally, further south in Devon and Cornwall, Paddington to Plymouth trains will operate hourly (although only select trains will call at Ivybridge), while Exeter to Newton Abbey will operate hourly and sleeper services won’t operate at all on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
- First Hull Trains
No info yet - check back later for more information.
- First TransPennine Express
No service at all on the South Transpennine Route on Monday and Tuesday.
On the North Transpennine Route, a special timetable will operate on Monday, with no service between Liverpool and Manchester via Warrington Central, Birchwood and Liverpool South Parkway, but two services an hour between Liverpool and Manchester Oxford Road/Manchester Piccadilly via the Chat Moss Route. These services will continue to Newcastle and Middlesbrough.
Between Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds/York, there will be two trains an hour, with one between Liverpool and Newcastle, one between Liverpool and Middlesbrough. Both will call at Stalybridge, Huddersfield and Dewsbury. No Transpennine Express at all to or from Manchester Victoria.
On top of that, there will be one service an hour from Manchester Airport to Piccadilly; from Leeds to Hull; from York to Scarborough; from York to Newcastle and from York to Middlesbrough.
On Tuesday, there will be no service between Liverpool and Manchester via Warrington Central, Birchwood and Liverpool South Parkway, but two services an hour from Liverpool to Manchester Oxford Road/Piccadilly via Cat Moss.
No service all day between Manchester and Leeds; Leeds and Hull; York and Scarborough; York and Newcastle/Middlesbrough. One service an hour between Manchester Airport and Piccadilly station.
On North West routes, no service will operate all day between Manchester Airport and Preston/Blackpool North; as well as Preston/Lancaster to Barrow-in-Furness
and Oxenholme to Windermere. An hourly service will operate between Manchester and Preson/Lancaster between 7.30am and 5pm.
- Gatwick Express
Gatwick Express says it is expecting “severe disruption”, although there is no information on reduced services. Check back here for updates.
- Grand Central
Reduced service. Although trains will operate between Sunderland, Bradford, Darlington and Kings Cross, it will be massively reduced - check Grand Central’s industrial action page for the services it’s expecting to run, and which ones it’s expecting to cancel.
- Thameslink and Great Northern
The company will operate a “very” limited service “to only some of our key stations” from 7.30am until mid-afternoon on both days, although it can’t guarantee it will be able to maintain the service. “We strongly advise you not to travel,” it says.
- Heathrow ConnectNo services at all on both Monday and Tuesday.
- Heathrow Express
Trains will run every 15 minutes, although they will start later and finish earlier than usual.
- South West Trains and Island Line
Customers are advised not to travel “unless absolutely necessary”. On Monday there will be a severely reduced service from early afternoon, with all trains stopped by late afternoon, while on Tuesday there will be no services at all.
- London Midland
On both Monday and Tuesday, the company will operate a “very restricted service”, and only on the lines between Coventry and Wolverhampton via Birmingham New Street; between Kidderminster and Dorridge via Birmingham Snow Hill; between Kidderminster and Stratford-Upon-Avon and Birmingham Snow Hill; between Stourbridge Town and Stourbridge Junction; between Coventry and Nuneaton and between Bletchley and Bedford (Tuesday only).
Confused? There’s a map here.
- London Underground and London Overground
On Monday and Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, there will be no service north of Queen’s Park on the Bakerloo line and no service on the Waterloo & City Line.
On the District Line, there will be no service between Wimbledon and Putney Bridge after 5pm on Monday and all day Tuesday, and no service between Turnham Green and Richmond all day on Monday and Tuesday.
On the London Overground there will be no service except between Dalston Junction and New Cross/New Cross Gate, which will operate from 8am and 1pm on Monday and 8am and 5pm on Tuesday.
Transport for London is laying on 100 additional bus services, mainly in south London.
Services will stop at approximately 6pm on Monday, with no trains running on Tuesday. Services will resume on Wednesday, but the company says there may be some changes to timetables.
- Northern Rail
Although many services will wind down in the early afternoon on Monday, until then Northern Rail will operate services between Crewe and Manchester and Manchester and Liverpool, as well as between Newcastle and Hexham, Morpeth and Middlesbrough; Darlington and Bishop Auckland and Middlesbrough, and Middlesbrough and Whitby.From Leeds, it will operate services to Selby, York via Garforth, Harrogate/York, Ilkley, Skipton, Bradford Forster Square, Huddersfield, Doncaster via Wakefield, Sheffield via Rotherham, Sheffield/Nottingham via Barnsley, Sheffield via Castleford, Bradford/Hebden Bridge, and Brighouse/Hebden Bridge.
From Sheffield, services will go to Huddersfield and Doncaster/Hull, as well as Worksop. There will also be services between Ilkley and Bradford Forster Square.
On Tuesday, the company will only be able to operate trains between Sheffield and Doncaster, Sheffield and Chesterfield, Crewe and Manchester via Manchester Airport, and Manchester and Liverpool via Earlestown. These will only operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
- SoutheasternOn both Monday and Tuesday, only a fifth of Southeastern’s network will operate, and only between 7am and 7pm on Monday, and 9am and 5pm on Tuesday. Highspeed will shut down at 10.30pm.
On Monday, there will be two trains per hour between Victoria and: Gravesend via Sidcup, Dartford via Bexleyheath, Ashford via Maidstone East, Sevenoaks via Orpington and Orpington via Herne Hill. There will also be two trains per hour between Gravesend and St Pancras and Ashford and St Pancras.
On Tuesday, there will be two trains per hour between Cannon Street and Hayes, Dartford via Sidcup and Dartford via Greenwich, as well as one train an hour between Cannon Street and Dartford via Bexleyheath.
On top of that, there will be two trains per hour between Charing Cross and Grove Park, four trains per hour between Victoria and Bromley South and four trains per hour between Ebbsfleet and St Pancras.
- SouthernOn Monday there will be no services until 7.30am - then the following services will run until 5pm: four trains an hour between Brighton and Victoria, calling at Haywards Heath, Three Bridges, Gatwick Airport and East Croydon; two trains an hour between Three Bridges and Victoria calling at Gatwick Airport and East Croydon; four fast trains an hour between East Croydon and Victoria.
On Tuesday there will be no service at all.
- Stansted ExpressOn Monday, there will be no services after midday, while on Tuesday there will be “infrequent” services all day, with “limited capacity”. Services will start to resume from 6am on Wednesday, but there are “likely to be some cancellations and delays”.
- Virgin Trains
No trains at all on the West Coast Mainline on both Monday and Tuesday. “Customers planning to travel on the affected dates will need to make alternative arrangements,” says Virgin. Too right.
- Virgin Trains East CoastThere’s a bit more flexibility on the East Coast Mainline.
On Monday, trains will run until the early afternoon, with the exception of services in Scotland beyond Edinburgh, where they won’t run at all to and from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Inverness. The final train to Edinburgh will run from Kings Cross at 11.30am, to Newcastle at 2pm, to York at 2.30pm, to Leeds at 2.35pm and to Peterborough at 4.33pm
Southbound, from Edinburgh to Kings Cross it will run at 1.30pm, from Newcastle at 3pm, and from Leeds at 4.15pm. The final train from Edinburgh to York will run at 2.30pm.
On Tuesday, limited trains will run between London and Leeds and London and York/Newcastle only. The first trains will run between 7.30am and 8.10am, while the final trains will run between 2.30pm and 5pm. Check Virgin East Coast’s website for more info.
Shanks' pony, anyone?
When will we find out more?
Although talks between the two sides are likely to go to the wire, National Rail says full details of special timetables will be available from this afternoon onwards.