There seems little prospect of this week’s rail strikes being called off. Although workers at Transport for Wales are not striking, many at Network Rail are. As Transport for Wales uses Network Rail services, almost all its services will be cancelled on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Services on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, will be subject to some cancellations and overcrowding. Overcrowding is also expected today and on Monday 27 June. The advice is not to travel.

TfW services

Transport for Wales advises its customers only make essential journeys by train on 20, 22, 24 and 26 June, and not to travel at all by train on 21, 23 and 25 June – which you can’t because there won’t be any trains through here. On Wednesday and Friday, the first train to Shrewsbury is at 10.18am. If you cannot avoid travelling, check times with National Rail and live departure boards before leaving home.

Railway staff at Network Rail and 13 train-operating companies will strike in the biggest dispute on the network for more than three decades. Although there will be more talks between Network Rail and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers this afternoon (Sunday), there is little expectation that progress will be made.

Even if a last-minute deal was agreed over Network Rail workers, staff employed by the train companies would still go on strike. Further afield, there is also expected to be a 24-hour strike on London Underground on Tuesday.

Many people will stop at home but that is not possible for others. We can expect extra traffic on the A49. Some may choose to use the 435 bus service run my Minsterley Motors. It takes rather longer than the train but it will be running and it’s a scenic route.

Putting aside whether the strike has merits or not, the action comes at a bad time for the rail industry as it recovers from the pandemic. Revenues and passenger numbers in 2021/22 were around half those before the pandemic though were increasing. We don’t yet have passenger data for 2020/21 but the graph below shows the impact of the pandemic on numbers using Ludlow and Shrewsbury rail stations.

It is notable that passenger numbers at Ludlow began to decline during the last year that Arriva had the franchise when it seemed to be running the trains into the ground. We have yet to see much of the promised investment by Transport for Wales. Some of the delay will be down to the pandemic but it would be useful to have an update on when new trains and services will begin operation.

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