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Fresh festive rail chaos as CrossCountry strikes start tomorrow

By Simon Penfold | Business | Published:

Train managers and senior conductors on Arriva CrossCountry are to stage a series of strikes in a dispute over rostering and Sunday working, including action over Christmas and the New Year.

A Cross Country train

It promises fresh rail chaos for Black Country travellers over the festive season just a day after the RMT secured a strike vote from workers on Virgin West Coast.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out for 24 hours on Sunday, followed by more 24-hour stoppages on November 26 and December 9, Christmas Eve and New Year's eve.

The union said the strikes will hit Arriva's services from Plymouth to Aberdeen. The CrossCountry network has its heart in Birmingham and runs through Wolverhampton and Stafford, as well as carrying travellers to Birmingham International and the airport.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "It is disgraceful that the management at Arriva effectively sabotaged talks on Wednesday that were making progress towards a settlement to this dispute and were instead focused on dishing out cash bungs to a dangerous scab army of under-cooked management recruits to try and break the action.

"Our members are standing up for the principles of a decent work-life balance and against the abuse of rostering and Sunday working by a management that is out of control.

"The action goes ahead and the disruption to services will be solely down to Arriva management's intransigence."

The company said in a statement on its website: "We would aim to operate an hourly service over most routes between 9am and 7pm, and using some longer trains where possible.

"As it is a Sunday, engineering work will affect some routes and some services may need to be replaced by buses."

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A spokesman for CrossCountry said: "It is disappointing the RMT is calling for its members to strike when we have already held extensive talks and feel that both sides recognise how this can be resolved without causing disruption to rail users.

"In the event that the strikes take place, we will only be able to operate a limited train service between 09:00 and 19:00. We have made available full information on our website about which routes will be operating, what alternative travel arrangements are available and options for using tickets that have already been purchased.

"To call strikes before the new year is extraordinary and will significantly disrupt our customers' journeys and place a heavy burden on our staff as we approach the Christmas holidays. We urge the RMT to call off these strikes and allow talks to continue."

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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