Flintshire mum faces miles of driving to get sons to crucial exams as rail strikes loom

Marta Kotlarek says her sons face "added stress" as they sit their GCSE and A-level exams. Credit: PA Images/Media Wales

A Flintshire mother says she faces driving at least 180 miles to get her sons to their exams if a series of planned rail strikes go ahead next week.

Marta Kotlarek lives in Holywell with her sons Michael, 18, and Jacob, 15, and travelling to their school Ysgol Eirias by car involves a 60-mile round trip.

As a result, Michael and Jacob usually take the train - a journey of around 20 minutes.

But the strikes on June 21, 23 and 25 are set to cause widespread travel chaos across the UK, with knock-on disruption also expected on June 22 and 24 as a result.

Railway workers are set to walk out in a growing dispute over pay, jobs and pensions, described as the biggest outbreak of industrial action in the industry in a generation.

While Transport for Wales (TfW) is not part of the dispute, the fall-out from the strike means the majority of rail services across Wales will be suspended on those days.

The majority of rail services across Wales will be suspended. Credit: Transport for Wales

Marta said her sons now face "added stress" as they sit their GCSE and A-level exams after the disruption already caused by the pandemic.

"We will leave at 7.30am to make sure they are there in time for their exams," she said.

"They normally take the train from Flint which takes 20 minutes. We are lucky because we have a car. I worry about families who don’t have a car.

"We live in Holywell, so it’s a 60-mile journey there and back to the school. We are also expecting extra traffic because of the strike. It’s an added stress during exams.

"I am lucky enough to have a car, but what happens to people who don’t? I know the WJEC [exam board] has processes if a child misses an exam, but I am worried for children whose families don’t have cars."

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Marta said driving will also mean an added cost to the family, because petrol prices have rocketed and her children usually use rail season tickets.

She said she hopes they will only have to make the 60-mile round trip on the main three days of the strike, but fears it could be more due to the fall-out from the action.

A Transport for Wales spokesperson said: "The industrial action resulting from the dispute between the Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers union (RMT) and Network Rail means we will be unable to operate our rail services on Network Rail infrastructure.

"The majority of rail services across the Wales and Borders network will be suspended, with the exception of services on the Core Valley Lines (CVL) north of Radyr in south Wales.

"There is also expected to be disruption on the days prior and after the industrial action."

  • For more information, including which services are affected and whether you can get a refund, visit our explainer article.