Next month's Grand National could be severely disrupted by a strike by the RMT union
The three-day Randox Grand National 2017 meeting takes place at the famous Aintree Racecourse, in Liverpool starting on Thursday April 6.
But today the RMT union announced members working on Merseyrail, Arriva Trains North and Southern Rail would walk on Saturday April 8 – the day of the Grand National.
The strike will bring mayhem for the 70,000 punters expected to travel to see the 4-mile, 30-fence race.
The industrial action is part of an ongoing dispute over staffing and the role of conductors.
Today furious race blasted union leaders for cynically picking the big day for their strike.
Furious Siobhan Carter, 24, said: “That’s me stuffed then? How am I getting to the track from Manchester now?!”
Angry Louise Gellman wrote on social media: “Gutted. This is going to ruin my day. Thanks RMT.”
Members working on Merseyrail, Arriva Trains North and Southern Rail would walk on Saturday April 8
While Kieran Newton sarcastically said: “You can’t drive there as there’s no where to park so we’ll all be on coaches and buses now. Yippee. Nice one.”
The threat of continued strikes will be damaging to our customers and the local economy
Mr Chaudhry-van der Velde
Merseyrail chief Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde dropped the bombshell on Monday night that he feared union leaders would hijack the high-profile race.
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Around 160,000 racegoers will visit the Merseyside track over the course of the three days, mainly by local Merseyrail trains.
Mr Chaudhry-van der Velde warned that striking during the horse-race festival could cripple the event and the local economy.
He said: “The threat of continued strikes will be damaging to our customers and the local economy.
“With the Grand National Festival imminent, the eyes of the world will be on Liverpool.
“A strike to coincide with this high-profile, prestigious event would be detrimental to the reputation of the city region overall.
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“I sincerely hope that the RMT does not consider industrial action over that period.”
An estimated TV audience of 15 million will tune in to watch the drama of the Grand National unfold along with the 70,000-strong trackside crowd.
On Monday, union officials and rail bosses met to discuss the ongoing row over a new £460m fleet of driver-operated trains set to arrive on Merseyrail from 2020.
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However the talks broke up the same day without any agreement reached, meaning the dispute goes on.
The anger centres around the new trains’ doors, which will be controlled by their drivers – meaning the “safety critical” 220 guards’ roles would become redundant.