A new warning has been issued to train passengers amid fears many are reluctant to give up leisure travel scheduled for Saturday despite another rail strike.
Just a fifth of the services will be operational and half of the lines will be closed as 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators disembark on the third day this week.
Operators are urging passengers to “only travel by train if necessary” and to check their journey in advance.
Many commuters were able to avoid the disruptions caused by strikes on Tuesday and Thursday in the home office.
But those who have been wanting to travel by train on Saturday for a long time – for example for a day trip or vacation, to visit friends or relatives or to attend an event – would like to continue their journey despite the industrial dispute.
A rail industry source told the PA news agency that while stations have been “relatively quiet” during the first two days of the strike, there is “a nervousness” about what will happen on Saturday.
Many seaside resorts have no services on Saturday including Bournemouth, Dorset; Blackpool, Lancashire; Margate, Kent; Llandudno, North Wales; and Skegness, Lincolnshire.
Cornwall will also have no trains.
Services across the UK will be mainly limited to the main routes, but even these will only be open between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
The disruption will last until Sunday.
Only 60% of trains were expected to operate on Friday, mainly due to a delay in the start of services after signallers and control room staff went on strike due to night shifts.
Despite talks this week, the bitter dispute over jobs, wages and working conditions has not yet been resolved.
Steve Montgomery, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, said: “We are very disappointed that the RMT leadership has decided to continue tomorrow’s strike and the union leadership has decided to take action that will help millions of people will cause serious inconvenience to anyone who had plans over the weekend.
“While we will do our best to minimize passenger disruption, we advise you to only travel if necessary and if you travel please plan ahead.”
Passengers with pre-booked tickets for Saturday can travel on Friday, Sunday or Monday instead or request a refund.
Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines said: “Unfortunately, the RMT’s decision to conduct another day of unnecessary and premature strike action means our passengers will suffer again on Saturday.
“Compared to a typical Saturday service, a fraction of the trains will run, with trains starting later in the morning and ending much earlier in the evening.
“I am truly sorry to our passengers for the inevitable disruption to their journey and weekend.”
He added: “We remain at the table ready to talk day and night and will do everything possible to avoid further disruption to our passengers.”
This week’s strikes are estimated to have cost the rail industry up to £150million in lost revenue and the consequences of the cancellation of planned modernization work.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said its members “stand by all working people who are trying to get a raise and some job security”.
He continued: “In a modern economy, workers need to be paid well for their work, enjoy good conditions and the assurance that their jobs will not be taken away from them.
“(Transport Secretary) Grant Shapps has to get in the room or get out of the way so we can deal with these companies with whom we’ve done dozens of successful deals before.
“What we cannot accept is thousands of railway workers being thrown into the scrapyard after being hailed as heroes during Covid.
“RMT will continue its industrial campaign until a negotiated settlement is reached.”