The launch of the ‘crossing’ on the Elizabeth line will have to be temporarily halted after just one day due to a series of rail strikes, Transport for London has revealed.
It came as spectators planning to watch two of the capital’s biggest fireworks displays – at Alexandra Palace and Battersea Park – were warned there would be no trains to the nearest stations on Saturday 5 November.
TfL is due to launch the first direct trains on the £20billion line from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield to and from central London on Sunday November 6 – meaning passengers will no longer need to change at Paddington or Liverpool Street.
But the historic moment – which will also see the Elizabeth line launch a full service, seven days a week – is marred by action on national railways by the RMT union.
Network Rail’s RMT members – including flagmen – stand down on Saturday November 5, Monday November 7 and Wednesday November 9 in their ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions. Unionized staff from 14 railway companies will join the dispute on November 5 and 9.
TfL says the impact of the strike will force it to abandon November 7 and 9 and return to the line operating as three separate railways, meaning passengers seeking to go beyond its central route to the central London will again have to change to Paddington or Liverpool. Street.
Other rail companies have also warned of disruption, with Britain’s biggest operator GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway), which operates Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern, advising passengers not to use its trains to get to traffic lights. firework on November 5.
There will be even more misery for Londoners on Thursday November 10 when London Underground’s 10,000 RMT workers go on strike over pensions and the elimination of station staff positions – a move that is expected to effectively shut down the metro for the day.
RMT members on the London Overground will also take action next Thursday.
TfL said of the Elizabeth line: “Due to a national railway strike on Saturday 5th, Monday 7th and Wednesday 9th November, the line will have reduced hours of operation and revert to operating as three railways distinct – from Paddington to Abbey Wood, Liverpool Street to Shenfield and Reading/Heathrow to Paddington – as sections of this railway depend on Network Rail signaling staff.
GTR has advised its passengers to travel only when “absolutely necessary” during the three-day rail strike, when only around 20% of its trains are expected to run. There will also be a ripple effect on each day following a strike day.
He said ‘neither Battersea nor Alexandra Palace will be served after 3pm on Saturday’.
Angie Doll, chief operating officer at GTR, said: ‘People might consider taking the train for the fireworks celebrations on Saturday, but the service will end early and they won’t be able to return.
“In fact, there will be disruption until Thursday morning and schoolchildren in particular will be affected as services start much later in the morning each day.”
South Western Railway said its trains would also be affected on the night of the bonfire.
SWR Performance and Planning Director Steve Tyler said: “We appreciate that customers are looking forward to enjoying the fireworks for Guy Fawkes Night, but the last trains for the day will leave early at around 5:00 p.m. and will be very busy.”
It comes as drivers of the Aslef-owned Croydon tram are set to be re-voted to allow further walkouts in their pay dispute – with a ‘long shutdown’ before Christmas on the cards.
Tram drivers in Croydon will be able to resume their strikes from December 21 if Aslef members, who have already walked off the job six times this year, vote to continue the action.
Finn Brennan, organizer for London’s Aslef district, said operator FirstGroup had offered 2% for last year and 4.75% for this year, both below the rate of inflation.