Football fans face travel chaos this weekend, with a nationwide rail strike set to affect travel for thousands of supporters.
The one-day strike will affect nine train companies, with only one Premier League game remaining unaffected.
here, Athletics explains what is happening and what THIS means…
What is happening?
On Saturday 13 August, train drivers belonging to ASLEF – the union representing 96 per cent of train drivers in England, Scotland and Wales – will stage a 24-hour walkout across nine train companies in Britain.
ASLEF says the strike is taking place after train companies “failed to make a pay offer to help our members keep up with the private cost of living”.
Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway, LNER, Greater Anglia, London Overground, Southeastern, Hull Trains and West Midlands Trains.
of strikes are likely to cause disruption to strikes on Sunday, August 14, with all but West Midlands Trains and South Eastern running reduced timetables or partial services.
Next week will also see travelers disrupted on their journeys afterwards The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) announced a strike between August 18 and August 20 due to what RMT described as “dispute over job security, pay and working conditions”.
These strikes will take out over 40,000 workers across the rail network and 14 train operating companies.
How will games be affected?
Manchester United supporters will have to leave early from Saturday’s 5.30pm kick-off against Brentford if they want to catch the last train home.
The last service from London to Manchester, which would regularly take around three hours, will depart from Kings Cross St Pancras at 8.02pm. That’s around 40 minutes after full time, but the eight-mile distance between the Gtech Community Stadium and the station takes around 50 minutes by car or public transport – the nearby Kew Bridge is on London Ground and therefore closed – and will it took almost three hours to walk.
Leeds and Newcastle United supporters could face an overnight public transport journey that could last more than 16 hours.
For Newcastle supporters, a train leaves Falmer – a station near the Amex Stadium – around half an hour after the final whistle on Saturday. This takes nearly five and a half hours and involves four changes, arriving in Newcastle at 10.45pm.
This service is already sold out – as is the 17-hour journey which leaves Falmer at 5.50pm and requires fans to spend 12 hours overnight in Doncaster before finally arriving in Newcastle at 11am on Sunday morning. A long journey that takes place just an hour earlier had tickets available on Friday lunchtime, but for a price of £177.
Leeds United fans face a five-hour journey with up to four changes to get to Southampton and a similar journey on the way back.
But they will have to move fast to catch a train before the 6pm service – it currently costs £158 and takes more than 15 hours.
Bournemouth fans face a six-hour journey and three changes en route to their away game against Manchester City. Standard tickets for the service which departs before 8am are sold out, meaning supporters looking to use the network must pay £223 for a first class ticket or travel on the 5.42 for half price.
There are no Saturday services between Liverpool and Aston or Witton for Everton fans heading to Villa Park, and only a handful of seats remained on Friday lunchtime for a 3am National Express coach service between Liverpool and Birmingham. Fulham supporters heading to Molineux could make a nearly four-hour train journey with some changes, but Chiltern Railways has warned traveling supporters that their trains will be “extremely busy and customers should expect delays and cancellations short”.
Only Leicester City’s trip to Arsenal will be unaffected by the strikes.
A full Championship, League One and League Two schedule is also taking place this weekend, with Wigan vs Bristol City, Plymouth vs Peterborough and Swindon vs Carlisle among the long trips affected by the strikes.
What was said?
Rail companies have issued statements or used social media to issue warnings about service disruptions and advise passengers to make alternative arrangements or allow extra time.
Many clubs have done the same.
In response to the strikes by ASLEF, Steve Montgomery, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We are really disappointed that ASLEF leadership has decided, for the second time in as many weeks, to impose yet more uncertainty on passengers and businesses disrupting commuters’ weekend plans.
“Like any service or business, things don’t stand still and we have to move with the times. We want to give our people a pay rise as we know everyone is feeling the pinch due to the rising cost of living.
ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan defended the strikes, saying: “We don’t want to inconvenience passengers because our friends and families use public transport too, because we believe in building trust in Britain’s railways and because we do this” you don’t want to lose money by taking industrial action.
“We don’t want to go on strike – strikes are always a last resort – but the companies and the government, I’m afraid, have forced our hand.”
The onus from the Premier League has been on clubs to communicate with their fans about travel advice. It is understood the rail disruption for traveling supporters has not been raised at any shareholder meeting.
The EFL is understood to have been in regular dialogue with its clubs regarding the industrial action, advising them to encourage supporters to plan travel in advance and seek alternative modes of transport.
How many fans use trains to get to matches?
According to the Campaign for Better Transport, taking the train to a football match is the most used form of transport for both home and away games.
For home games, 34 percent of football fans travel to stadiums by train, with 29 percent of people driving to a match.
Supporters are surprisingly much more reliant on trains for away matches, at 57 per cent of outdoor fans using rail services.
London clubs are less dependent on overground trains as they are the Tube, but 76 per cent of fans use the former for home games.
According to Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, 650,000 fans in the Premier League alone travel to matches each week.
What other options do fans have?
Many supporters will have to travel by another mode of transport.
Many will likely be forced to take to the road and if a car if not an option, a coach may be. National Express and Megabus are operating some services, but many seats are already taken.
London Underground services will operate as normal this weekend for supporters traveling to the capital.
(Photo: Getty Images)