EAST MIDLANDS Trains’ decision not to run replacement services during continuing rail strike action is having a knock-on effect on the tourist trade, local figures believe.
The third of ASLEF’s planned one day strikes in May is taking place today (Tuesday), with another scheduled for Thursday, when many of East Midlands Trains’ drivers are again expected to walk out in a dispute over pensions.
The rail company is putting on replacement buses across the county, but despite Skegness’s status as a major coastal resort, it is not among the destinations being covered. Replacement buses are only running as far as Boston, with travellers instead being asked to hop onto one of the regular Interconnect bus services between Boston and Skegness for that leg of the journey.
However, the bus services don’t run as late into the evening and also don’t connect with the replacement services, meaning a lay over in Boston for those endeavouring to make the journey.
There have also been reports that the IC7 service has been struggling to cope with the extra passengers at peak times.
Hotelier, and former SECWHA chair, Nigel Tett, said that bookings at his establishment had been impacted.
He said: “The Royal Arthur Association (a group of retired sailors) had to change their travel plans to accommodate the strike because they did not want the upheaval of changing from trains to buses.
“And, as an elderly group, like many of our visitors, they did not think they could rely on the assistance to help them.
“When these sorts of things happen the finger of blame is so often pointed at Skegness even though in reality we have nothing to do with it and on this occasion the blame must lie with East Midlands Trains,” he added.
Skegness Mayor Steve Kirk added: “I haven’t yet heard from any businesses who believe they have lost trade, but if you look online and on Facebook you quickly come across people typing that they are wary of coming to Skegness during the strikes.
“Whilst I’ve got no direct evidence of an impact I think common sense suggests that it must be having some sort of impact.”
Explaining the lack of a replacement service, East Midlands Trains, writing on its website, said: “The timetable has been carefully planned to use the train services and replacement bus services in the most effective way possible.
“For that reason, it makes little sense to duplicate a bus service where there is already a planned one in operation. All our tickets will be accepted on Stagecoach bus services.”
More strikes are planned for May 15 and 17. It is not yet known what replacement services, if any, will be provided.