Rail strikes to wreck weekend of sport: Thousands heading to watch London Marathon and Premier League Football matches face misery with just 11% of trains running on Saturday... the first of THREE walkouts in space of a week

Some 50,000 people are expected to head to the London Marathon on Sunday Around 200,000 football fans to flock to Premier League matches on SaturdayMembers of Aslef, RMT and TSSA unions will also walk out on October 5 and 8

Britain will grind to a halt tomorrow as 40,000 rail workers go on strike across the country, inflicting the first of three days of travel misery as part of a long-running dispute over pay.

Members from the militant Aslef, RMT and TSSA unions will walk out for 24 hours on Saturday, leaving just 11 per cent of services operating – with further strike action planned for October 5 and 8.

The disruption will severely affect the 50,000 people who are expected to travel to the London Marathon on Sunday, as well as those heading to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham at the weekend.

The travel chaos will also hit football fans as the Premier League returns on Saturday, with seven fixtures expecting to see more than 200,000 spectators flock to stadiums across the country.

The matches include Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea v Crystal Palace, Fulham v Newcastle United, Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton v Everton.

Pop star Machine Gun Kelly and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli might also be left with quite a few empty seats at their concerts in the capital on Saturday.

RMT members will also walkout in Scotland on October 10, while Aslef boss Mick Whelan warned today that further strikes seem ‘inevitable’ due to a lack of progress in the dispute.

Adding to the chaos are a string of engineering works affecting routes in London, Reading, Oxford, Newcastle, Edinburgh and elsewhere.

But total travel meltdown was avoided after planned strike action by bus drivers was called off. Members of Unite employed by Arriva in North London secured an improved pay offer of 11%, the union said on Friday.

The disruption will severely affect the 50,000 people who are expected to travel to the London Marathon on Sunday (Pictured: London Marathon crossing Tower Bridge last year)

The disruption will severely affect the 50,000 people who are expected to travel to the London Marathon on Sunday (Pictured: London Marathon crossing Tower Bridge last year)

The travel chaos will also hit football fans as the Premier League returns with seven fixtures expecting to draw more than 200,000 spectators from across the country (Pictured: The Emirates Stadium in London, which has a capacity of 60,000 fans)

The travel chaos will also hit football fans as the Premier League returns with seven fixtures expecting to draw more than 200,000 spectators from across the country (Pictured: The Emirates Stadium in London, which has a capacity of 60,000 fans)

The matches on Saturday include Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea v Crystal Palace, Fulham v Newcastle United, Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton v Everton (Pictured: Liverpool Stadium which has a capacity of 53,000)

The matches on Saturday include Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea v Crystal Palace, Fulham v Newcastle United, Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton v Everton (Pictured: Liverpool Stadium which has a capacity of 53,000)

The rail strikes tomorrow will be the first time the unions have walked out on the same day, so services will be more significantly disrupted than on previous strike days (Pictured: Fulham stadium which has a capacity of 25,000)

The rail strikes tomorrow will be the first time the unions have walked out on the same day, so services will be more significantly disrupted than on previous strike days (Pictured: Fulham stadium which has a capacity of 25,000)

Anyone planning to travel by rail should make regular checks before they leave home, train operators have advised.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, told the PA News Agency that his members were increasingly angry at the lack of progress in the dispute.

He said: ‘We don’t want to be on strike, but this dispute will continue until the Government lifts the shackles from the train companies.

‘The message I am receiving from my members is that they want more industrial action, so I think more strikes are inevitable.’

The rail strikes tomorrow will be the first time the unions have walked out on the same day, so services will be more significantly disrupted than on previous strike days.

Trains will start later in the morning and finish earlier in the evening, and there will be no trains at all across large parts of the network.

Unlike previous strike days, this Saturday there will be no trains between London and a number of other major UK cities – including Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle, Brighton and Norwich.

Those passengers who must travel – including those looking to participate in or watch the London Marathon – are advised to plan ahead and check when their last train will depart.

Passengers are also advised that there is likely to be some disruption in the early morning of Sunday October 2 as workers return to duties.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: ‘Despite our best efforts to compromise and find a breakthrough in talks, rail unions remain intent on continuing and coordinating their strike action.

‘This serves only to ensure our staff forgo even more of their pay unnecessarily, as well as causing even more disruption for our passengers and further damaging the railway’s recovery from the pandemic.

‘Passengers who want to travel this Saturday, and indeed next Wednesday and next Saturday, are asked only to do so if absolutely necessary. Those who must travel should expect disruption and make sure they check when their last train will depart.’

Daniel Mann, director of industry operations at Rail Delivery Group, said: ‘These strikes are unnecessary and damaging. They disrupt passengers’ plans, undermine struggling businesses, hit major events and harm the industry’s recovery.

‘It is particularly disheartening that this weekend’s strike will hit the plans of thousands of runners who have trained for months to take part in the iconic London Marathon.

‘That will also punish the many charities, large and small, who depend on sponsorship money raised by such events to support the most vulnerable in our community.

‘While we have done all we can to keep some services running, passengers should only travel by rail if absolutely necessary.

‘Passengers with advance, off-peak or anytime tickets affected by the strikes on 1 October can use their ticket on the day before the booked date, or up to and including 4 October. Passengers can also change their tickets to travel on an alternate date or get a refund if their train is cancelled or rescheduled.’

Transport for London (TfL) warned its services will be affected by the strikes, with no service expected on London Overground on Saturday and next Wednesday.

Some of London Underground and the Elizabeth line will also be affected on both days.

Essential engineering works mean no Piccadilly line service to Heathrow on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2.

Most of the public transport network will operate as usual, but customers were advised to check before they travel and leave more time for journeys

Trish Ashton, TfL’s director of rail and sponsored services, said: ‘Customers will still be able to travel during these strikes including using the bus network, but we strongly advise them to plan ahead and check before they travel.

‘There is expected to be disruption on some of London’s rail services this weekend and next, with small parts of the Tube also affected.’

While there will be public transport options across London, people were advised that walking or cycling may be quicker for some journeys.

Runners and spectators trying to get into London in time for the 9.30am start of the London Marathon in Greenwich on Sunday were warned they were likely to be frustrated by the strike.

The disruption is due to members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (pictured: Mick Lynch, RMT general-secretary), Aslef, Unite and the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association  staging a co-ordinated walkout

The disruption is due to members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (pictured: Mick Lynch, RMT general-secretary), Aslef, Unite and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association  staging a co-ordinated walkout

Rail passengers are being urged only to travel if necessary on Saturday, October 1, because of a strike by workers - which will close 89 per cent of the network

Rail passengers are being urged only to travel if necessary on Saturday, October 1, because of a strike by workers – which will close 89 per cent of the network

Trains travelling any reasonable distance into central London will not arrive much before 9am.

On Sunday, as services will start much later, only those travelling a short distance to the London Marathon will reach the 9.30am start line on time.

It comes as picket lines have been mounted outside Royal Mail delivery and sorting offices today after workers launched a 48-hour strike in a worsening dispute over pay.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) walked out on Friday, hitting deliveries of post across the country.

Talks between the two sides were held on Thursday but there was no sign of any progress being made and the union is planning to step up industrial action in the coming weeks.

The union said the walkout by around 115,000 of its members is the biggest strike of the year amid long-running disputes in other sectors.

A further 19 days of strikes have been announced on different days throughout October and November in a major escalation of the dispute.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: ‘This is a significant announcement, but it is one which matches the level of anger our members feel at the way Royal Mail Group has treated them.

‘The chief executive of Royal Mail Group is treating postal workers as if they are stupid.

‘These are the same people that have kept the country connected and returned Royal Mail Group to record profit.

‘Postal workers across the UK now face the fight of their lives to save their jobs and the service they provide to every household and business in the UK.

‘We call on everyone to stand with their local postal worker.’

A Royal Mail spokesman said: ‘The CWU can be in no doubt of the impact its reckless pursuit of 19 days of industrial action has on our weakened financial position and the job security of its members.

‘Royal Mail is losing £1 million a day. We operate in a competitive market, and our customers have choices. Continued strike action will force our customers to make those choices sooner rather than later.

‘Our invitation to enter into talks through Acas remains open. Our people need the CWU leadership to recognise the reality of the situation Royal Mail faces as a business, and to engage urgently on the changes required to adapt to customer demands in a highly competitive market.

‘We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause.

‘We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.’

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