December 1, 2022 8.00 am This story is over 16 months old

Lincoln Christmas Market trains cancelled in rail strike nightmare

Strike action affecting EMR could leave people stranded

By Local Democracy Reporter

Visitors to the Lincoln Christmas Market are facing late headaches to arrange travel, following the announcement of strike action affecting East Midlands Railway this weekend.

The clock is ticking ahead of Lincoln’s biggest annual event, the Christmas Market, which takes place between Thursday, December 1 and Sunday, December 4. Read our guide for the 40th Lincoln Christmas Market here.

Lincoln Christmas Market attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city each year – but attendance figures could see a reduction this weekend due to planned strike action by rail staff at Unite the Union on the Friday and Saturday.

Unite the Union has previously accused East Midlands Railway’s parent organisation Abellio of penny pinching and not giving staff a fair pay offer, following reports that the firm recorded a £401 million net profit in 2021.

Amusements are also at the market, including a gigantic Ferris wheel. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

East Midlands Railway will be forced to run a “significantly reduced” level of service on Friday and Saturday, with no trains running east out of Nottingham.

This means that no EMR trains will be available to or from Lincoln on either Friday, December 2 or Saturday, December 3 – historically the busiest days of the Christmas Market.

Due to East Midlands Railway being the only operator affected by this industrial action, passengers who intend to use multiple operators on their journey are being asked to carefully check if that trip can still be completed.

| Photo: EMR

Will Rogers, Managing Director for East Midlands Railway, said: “As a result of strike action being taken by Unite the Union, we will be operating a significantly reduced service on Friday and Saturday.

“The impact of industrial action has specifically affected the operation of our train depots and reduces our ability to run our normal timetable.

“We are advising customers to plan ahead and only travel by rail if absolutely necessary on strike days. Customers are also strongly advised to check when the time of their last train is before setting off, understand how the strike action affects their whole journey and take note of the impact of planned engineering works.

“More detailed advice, including daily travel information, is available on our website.”

Alternative travel

Lincoln rail station will likely close again due to the strikes. | Photo: The Lincolnite

Not all rail users will be left stranded by Unite’s strike action, as this particular walkout does not affect LNER, another train operator key to Lincolnshire’s rail network.

London North Eastern Railway’s services will operate as normal this weekend, so anybody travelling from the capital will be able to make it to Lincoln Christmas Market.

Organisers at the Lincoln Christmas Market have also set up a dedicated Park and Ride service which operates from the Lincolnshire Showground throughout the weekend.

It will be signposted on all approach roads, and all buses drop off close to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life – with the service running on a fill and go basis, or every seven minutes, whichever is sooner.

Tickets cost between £13 and £15 for one vehicle with up to seven passengers, depending on which day you travel, and will operate between 11.30am and 10pm on Thursday, 9am to 10pm on Friday and Saturday, then 9am to 7.30pm on Sunday.

You can book tickets for this on the Lincoln Christmas Market website, but tickets should only be activated on the day of intended use.

‘Passengers left stranded’

Lincoln Train Station. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

One of the people disgruntled by these cancellations is Chris Mason, who accused East Midlands Railway of “not having the decency” to consider running a skeleton service or putting on replacement bus services for rural residents.

Chris told The Lincolnite that it is nothing new for people in Lincolnshire to experience, claiming that EMR have used “any excuse to cancel everything” in the county because Lincolnshire is “a loss making area”.

He told The Lincolnite: “Once again Lincolnshire passengers are to be stranded by EMR as there is no alternative for most of us to get around in rural areas for days on end, and EMR have neither the decency to run a skeleton service nor hire some buses for areas where there is no alternative public transport .

“The strike seems to be maintenance staff and its clear to passengers that vehicles that are left overnight at Lincoln or Boston get little attention hence their often dirty condition next day. Why they can’t run those trains ( that wouldn’t have received any attention anyway) is beyond me and it just seems an excuse.

“They are running a near normal service on many lines in Nottingham, Derby etc. so it’s clear to me that as Lincolnshire is a loss making area anyway they use any excuse to cancel everything to save money on fuel and running costs.

“Worst still is as it stands passengers will be left stranded many times in December, including Christmas Eve!

“It’s time EMR were shown the door, their attitude to passengers stinks – whilst our MPs may seem happy with the service, long suffering passengers are not.”

City of Lincoln Council, as well as strike action organisers Unite the Union, have also been contacted for comment on these issues.

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