Commuter misery as New Year begins with strikes and hikes

TUNBRIDGE WELLS commuters face a difficult start to the year as more rail strikes have seen services cancelled all week just as people are heading back to work following the Christmas break.

Strike action began yesterday (Tuesday) and is expected to last until the weekend.

Southeastern, which operates the passenger services in Tunbridge Wells, says travellers can expect severe disruption across the network during this week.

Tunbridge Wells station is set to remain closed throughout the strike action.

Just 44 out of the network’s 180 stations will be open on these dates as there will only be a very limited service operating on the Dartford line, the Sevenoaks line, and the highspeed route via Ashford because of action by the RMT trade union today (January 4), Friday (January 6) and Saturday (January 7).

No trains will be running at all across Kent on Thursday January 5, due to strike action by the ASLEF union.

No rail replacement buses will service the stations that are closed on strike dates and the public is urged to only travel if absolutely necessary.

Scott Brightwell, Southeastern Operations and Safety Director, said: “We’re very sorry for the inconvenience that this industrial action by the RMT and ASLEF unions has caused.  On RMT strike days, some routes will have a very limited service, and there will be no trains at all in some places.

“On Thursday January 5 there will be no trains on any of our lines. We urge you to check our dedicated, up-to-date, strike page before travelling.

“Train services are expected to be extremely busy on the routes that are running on RMT strike days, so we’d advise our customers to make their journeys later in the morning and earlier in the evening if they can.”

He added that commuters should check journey planners at and, or on the Southeastern app before they attempt to travel.

The news comes after the government announced the largest hike in rail fares in a decade that will come into effect on March 5, when all rail fares and season tickets will increase by 5.9 per cent.

This is the largest annual rise since a 6.2 per cent jump in 2012.

The hike will include season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and flexible tickets for travel around major cities.

The rise means that season ticket holders in Tunbridge Wells will see the cost of a basic annual ticket into London rise from around £5,250 to more than £5,560.

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