A fifth of rail services running on half of the network will be running on Thursday and Saturday, as industrial action is set to bring the country to a grinding halt.
Network Rail has advised commuters to not use trains unless absolutely necessary, with limited services available for much of the country.
This comes after coordinated industrial action by the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) unions, will mean just 20 per cent of services are running on Thursday and Saturday.
More than 40,000 staff members are set to down tools in protest of working conditions and pay. Union leaders have recently rejected a four per cent pay rise, which was branded as “paltry”.
Workers from 14 different train companies, with about half from Network Rail, are walking out amid soaring costs of living and inflation, which is set to hit 10 per cent.
On Friday, there will also be London-wide strikes affecting Tube, rail and buses, which is set to bring the capital to a grinding halt.
While many will be able to work from home on days impacted by the strikes, both Network Rail and Transport for London said services are likely to be delayed on the days after.
Andy Lord, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “I would like to apologise to our customers who will have their journeys impacted by these strikes. We’re urging people to avoid travelling on the Tube and only travel if essential on the rest of the network on 19 August, and to ensure they check before they travel from 18-21 August.”
“We’re urging the RMT and Unite to call off these strikes – my message to them is that it’s not too late to work with us, Arriva Rail London and RATP to find a resolution and avoid the huge disruption this action will cause.”
Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said “It saddens me that we are again having to ask passengers to stay away from the railway for two days this week due to unnecessary strike action, when we should be helping them enjoy their summers”.
“We have made a good and fair offer but, with the exception of our TSSA management grades who accepted the deal, our unions are refusing to let our employees have a say, and sadly that means more disruption on the rail network.
“We’ll run as many services as we can on Thursday and Saturday, but it will only be around a fifth of the usual timetable, so please only travel if absolutely necessary and if you must travel, plan ahead and check when your last train will be.”
Chair of the Rail Delivery Group, Steve Montgomery, hit out at the leadership of RMT and TSSA for “imposing yet more uncertainty on passengers and businesses by disrupting passengers’ travel plans.”
The 24-hour walkout will affect lines including Avanti West Coast, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, the Gatwick Express, London Northwestern, London Overground and the Heathrow and Stansted Express.