Hundreds of holidaymakers and day-trippers from Birmingham New Street faced travel chaos yesterday as industrial action on Britain’s most extensive rail franchise kicked in.
The full impact of a month-long ban on overtime and non-rostered Sunday working was be felt by those journeying around the country on trains run by Arriva’s CrossCountry franchise, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) warned.
Nottingham to Cardiff services were cancelled as were the majority of Leicester to Birmingham New Street trains.
Most services between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport were also cancelled with rail replacement bus services were in operation.
A spokesman said every effort was being made to maintain the service and he said the franchise operator hoped for a resolution to the dispute this week.
Members of the union began a month of industrial action on Monday over pay and working conditions, which includes a refusal to clear litter from trains.
Talks to settle the dispute broke up on Friday and will be reconvened this week.
Even if a resolution is agreed, holidaymakers and commuters will still face further travel disruption over the next fortnight, with strikes planned on the National Express East Anglia franchise.
The RMT and train drivers’ union Aslef are in a separate dispute with the franchise, also over pay and conditions.
The unions will hold talks with the company today but Aslef has said that unless it shows due consideration to the views of staff, industrial action would take place on August 13/14 and 20/21.
Those taking action next week will be joined by members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, unless the deadlock is broken.
Keith Norman, general secretary of Aslef, said: “We can frankly see no solution to this dispute in sight, and it looks as if we’ll have to dig in for the long term.”
Mr Norman said he was astonished at the “lack of leadership and dearth of compromise” which he claimed had been the hallmark of National Express East Anglia’s approach to the dispute.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “Both Arriva CrossCountry and National Express East Anglia think they can force their workers to pay the price for both the recession and mistakes that have been made by the companies at the most senior level.