Update 2015-05-21 15:15: The BBC is reporting that this strike is called off and I saw Arriva Trains Wales and others communicating the same. What follows below this message looks to be irrelevant now though there still could be some variation from the expected timetable where notice has been insufficient and where railway engineering works are planned. Extended Bank Holiday rail travel plans are a possibility now after all.
Any designs that I have for the coming bank holiday weekend needed to be trimmed or culled because of the upcoming 24 hour Network Rail strike by the RMT and TSSA trade unions from 17:00 on Monday into Tuesday. Putting my knowledge to use, here is what the train companies say about their service levels. Essentially, there are some services but some many are not running that the railway is going to be useless while the strike is in progress. There may be some hope that it is called off at the last minute but that is not how it looks and I writing this.
Network Rail has an Industrial Action section on their website that summarises what is happening but it is what the train operators that really is telling. Here is a summary of what they have to say:
Abellio Greater Anglia are operating nothing after midday on Monday while only a few skeleton services are on offer on Tuesday with some disruption possible on Wednesday too. All is on their website so a check there would do no harm.
Arriva Trains Wales have a summary of what limited services they will be operating and there are not that many so the general advice is stay away until all is back to normal. Wednesday will see some disruption in the morning time too.
Caledonian Sleeper were being coy about what is happening with their services when I checked but it might be best to assume that none are operating at all and reschedule things. Nevertheless, things still can change and they have somewhere to add that information online.
CrossCountry only have trains running on small sections of their network with much, including Macclesfield and Manchester, seeing no service at all.
East Midlands Trains services are finishing earlier than usual on the Bank Holiday and hardly any are operating on Tuesday. Most of those are going to and from London St. Pancras. This is a service summary so you can find out more.
First Great Western has a longer list of train services that running than I would have expected. There remains a good deal of disruption too so it is best not to expect anything like a normal service.
Grand Central are operating to a reduced timetable on Monday with no services running on Tuesday.
Hull Trains have a special timetable in operation on Monday while there are no services at all on Tuesday.
London Midland too are running a very restricted service.
Northern Rail have details of what services are running and most are not with both days being affected. For clarity, the closed routes are listed too.
ScotRail only have a small number of commuter services running around Glasgow and Edinburgh. Both days are seeing most of Scotland without a train service of any sort.
Southwest Trains have no services at all on Tuesday and those on Monday will have ceased by late afternoon. More updates may be added on the relevant section of their website.
Transpennine Express have extensive details of the services that they will have running and even Wednesday morning will not be spared some disruption until signalling staff are back at work and trains are back where they needed to be.
Virgin Trains will have no trains running on the West Coast Mainline on either of the two days and even a suspension of the strike will not mean a complete reinstatement of services either. Passengers are being encouraged to travel either on Sunday or Wednesday with restrictions of advanced purchase tickets being eased accordingly. It is not as severe on the East Coast Mainline though there still will be major disruption with ticket bookings suspended for either of the two days.
As you see from the above, travelling by rail hardly is going to be a viable option for around two whole days and that is a pity. Though the last railway strike this that I remember was in July 2006, it is not what the railways really need and it might be time for railwaymen to realise that they too need to sell their industry’s services and that strike don’t do that. Personal motorised travel remains the major competitor though National Express is increasing its coach service provision to capture some of the demand, as will Megabus and Scottish Citylink. Will they cope? Only time will answer that.