Train strikes threaten to stop northern mourners visiting London

Grant Shapps says train strikes are under 'false pretence'

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One of the UK’s busiest railways is unable to provide extra services to the capital over the weekend, according to the Telegraph. Failure to provide extra services could ensure those wanting to visit the capital to pay their respects to the Queen might not be able to make the journey. The 96-year-old monarch passed away peacefully in Balmoral last Thursday and Brits have been paying tribute to Her Majesty in recent days.

The Queen’s funeral will take place on Monday at Westminster Abbey, with Great Western Rail and National Express noting a significant increase in demand for tickets.

However, amid a long-running industrial dispute, Avanti has only scheduled additional services until Friday.

According to an internal memorandum, four extra return journeys are scheduled for Wednesday between London and Manchester and three additional round trips will run on Friday.

The Telegraph has claimed that the “stakeholder bulletin” has not indicated extra services have yet been timetabled for the weekend.

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It said: “We are acutely aware that Saturday and Sunday are likely to be extremely busy with people from all over the UK travelling to London to pay their respects.

“Saturdays and Sundays are particularly difficult at the current time as they had [sic] the highest reliance on overtime.

“Nevertheless, we are examining closely what opportunities there are for additional services on those days and will keep you informed.

“We are also actively looking at the possibility of chartering additional trains to help carry our passengers and are in discussions with potential providers.”

Bosses are instead looking at liaising with alternative train operators, including LNWR and Chiltern, to “ensure the timetable is as robust and comprehensive as possible across the whole network”.

The correspondence claimed: “We will also continue to engage with staff and prepare to increase services if volunteers for overtime come forward.”

It continued: “As you know, Avanti West Coast is running a reduced timetable at the moment due to a shortage of train crew, principally because drivers are currently unwilling to sign up for the overtime upon which all train operators rely.

“We are extremely sorry for this situation.”

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A spokesman for Avanti said: “We have been able to put in place up to eight additional services a day on our busiest route between London and Manchester.

“This will add a total of around 16,000 extra seats.

“We are working to make all fares available as soon as possible.

“The full range of fares, including our cheapest, will be available but are likely to sell out quickly due to the high demand.

“We expect services to be very busy so ask people to check before they travel and allow plenty of time for their journey.”

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