Train companies have started cancelling services over the Bank Holiday because of a planned strike by thousands of Network Rail workers in a row over pay, even though peace talks are continuing.
West Coast main line operator Virgin Trains scrapped all services on Monday and Tuesday and warned it would only be able to run a very limited number of trains on its East Coast line over the two days.
An outline of how the strike will affect all train companies is expected today, but passengers were warned to expect severe disruption if the 24 walkout goes ahead from 5pm on Monday. Talks to avoid the strike were adjourned last night and are due to resume at 9am today.
Chiltern Railways and First Great Western were among those giving passengers an early idea of the travel chaos they can expect.
Passengers were being advised not to travel unless "absolutely necessary", with widespread cancellations expected, leading to packed trains. A legal challenge by NR against the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) ballot is listed this afternoon in the High Court.
NR also urged train passengers to be prepared for the strike, saying it could not bank on unions calling off the planned stoppage. The two sides were continuing to hold talks at the conciliation service Acas, and NR said its negotiators will be available into the weekend if necessary to try to head off a strike.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union and the TSSA have rejected a four-year pay deal of £500 followed by three years of rises in line with RPI inflation.
Train operators are working with NR on contingency plans, which will be "fine-tuned" over the next few days.