Train strikes: How North East can navigate LNER, Lumo and Cross Country cancellations this week
This is how to get yourself on a service set to be running, or navigate the East Coast Main Line without getting on a train.
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Widespread travel disruption is set to impact rail services across the United Kingdom this week. It comes at a notoriously busy time for public transport with many making journeys home for Christmas or to festive events, and this is what the latest round of RMT strikes means for the people of Newcastle and the North East.
Two 48-hour strikes will take place across the country's trains on Tuesday, December 13 and Friday, December 16 as railway workers continue to demand a better pay increase and greater job security.
The RMT, representing workers, is involved in two sets of talks - one with Network Rail and another with the Rail Delivery Group. RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has now called for a direct meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he believes that Downing Street is "directing the mandate for the rail companies and has torpedoed the talks".
A major sticking point comes in the future of Driver Only Operation, technology that would allow the driver to operate passenger doors rather than train crew. The RMT fears it will cost jobs and compromise customer safety but the Department for Transport insists this is not the case and that it will allow staff on board to focus on serving customers.
With the imminent strikes leaving many confused as to what journeys are possible and if they are going to get home for Christmas this year, we look through all you need to know in Newcastle and the North East.
When are train strikes happening this week?
Rail workers will trike on Tuesday, December 13 and Wednesday, December 14 to begin with. They will then work on Thursday before striking once again on Friday, December 16 and Saturday, December 17.
However, even on the days when strikes haven't been called, there is likely to be disruption as a result of the lack of staffing on previous and future days, meaning reduced or no trains are running on any day.
Workers will then strike again for four days from Saturday, December 24 to Tuesday, December 27.
How are rail providers in the North East being affected by strikes?
Right, this is where it gets a bit complicated. Different train providers are being affected in different ways by worker walkouts, here's a guide to what's happening with who.
LNER - LNER is a vital provider on the East Coast Main Line for those in the North East wanting to get to Edinburgh and down to London. Workers from LNER are striking. There are very few LNER services running on strike days, but a small number of trains are scheduled to run. Customers can claim a refund for their ticket or use it on another day - if doing the latter, it is advised to make a separate seat reservation here. Check all the information before travelling on the LNER website here.
Lumo - Lumo employees are not striking but the provider is still affected due to signalling staff not working. Lumo is running a significantly reduced timetable, which can be found here. If you were booked on a train that isn't there, it has been cancelled. You should contact Lumo online, via Twitter is normally a good option, to get a seat reservation for another train.
CrossCountry - During strikes CrossCountry will be running one train an hour on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. This first train is at 11:03 am and the last is at 1:30 pm - so there aren't many options. There is a more regular service on Thursday, but trains only start at 9:03 am and end at 6:03 pm.
TransPennine Express - TransPennine Express services won't come as far as Newcastle on any strike days. There will be several services running between Edinburgh and York on Thursday - see the timetable here.
What other ways are there to travel to Edinburgh and London from Newcastle?
Of course, you can still travel on the roads if you have a car, although recent adverse weather conditions have been causing issues. You can find the latest on Met Office weather warnings there.
There are still tickets available to fly from Newcastle to London direct on strike days, although prices are through the roof for that privilege. Coach tickets on National Express and Megabus are also available for a more reasonable price point of around £30, but will take you over six hours to make the journey.