TRAIN firms running through York and North Yorkshire are advising passengers to only travel if necessary today (Thursday), as the second day of strikes gets underway.

This week marks the country’s biggest rail strike since 1989.

Around 40,000 rail staff, who are members of the RMT union, across 13 train operators, are walking out over disputes concerning pay, pensions and working conditions.

The remaining strike dates are today and Saturday, June 25.

Rail operators have advised passengers to only travel on these dates if necessary due to the limited services on offer.

One passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous but lives in Starbeck, Harrogate, has been affected by the strikes.

She told The Press: “I work in Poppleton and have had to take Tuesday and Thursday off work as annual leave.

“I get the train to work every day. I do not drive and my employer will not allow me to work from home.

“I fully support the strike, as a trade unionist and a Labour Party member. However, I think it’s disgusting that the rail companies are not offering alternative transport.

“There is no alternative public transport between Harrogate and York, so it really leaves no alternative option for travel.”

CrossCountry, Northern and TransPennine Express are only running trains every hour from 8am to 6pm today. LNER is running trains every half an hour.

Tricia Williams, chief operating officer at Northern, said: “We’ve done everything we can to offer people across the North of England a skeleton service – but our advice remains not to travel.

“The timetable we have put in place has been agreed with Network Rail, who have had to consider the requirements of other train operators and freight services on the network.

“We apologise in advance for the disruption and inconvenience that the RMT’s industrial action will cause. We continue to be keen to speak to the RMT to find a resolution and avoid any future strikes.”

The firm said it couldn't offer rail replacement buses or alternative travel options.

Rachael Maskell, York Central MP, supported the strikes in the House of Commons on the first day of the strikes.

She told Parliament: “The Tories have failed to take the concerns of railway workers seriously and have forced strike action from working people who deserve far better – safety on the railways, no job cuts and fair pay.

“We are talking about the livelihoods of public servants and their job security. If the (Transport) secretary of state (Grant Shapps) was serious in resolving this dispute he would be open to listen to what the unions had to say.”

Kevin Hollinrake, Thirsk and Malton MP, said: “These strikes are deeply frustrating for those affected, especially given the government’s financial interventions kept trains running through the pandemic.

“Both in my work on the Treasury Select Committee and in Parliament more generally, I have consistently raised the issue of cost of living to ministers and appreciate the difficulties many are facing.”