What are the best alternative options for fans with the FA Cup final set for rail strike disruption?
Manchester’s first-ever FA Cup final will take place on Saturday, with City bidding for a historic treble against rival neighbors United at Wembley.
Aside from holding off the Premier League champions, the Red Devils are chasing their second domestic trophy of the year after winning the Carabao Cup in February.
The thousands of fans planning to make the journey from Manchester to London will face major public transport disruptions, with strikes planned that will ‘severely’ affect national rail services.
The FA has confirmed that a further 120 buses will run from Manchester to London to allow fans to attend the event.
Still unsure about the transport chaos this Saturday? Mail Sport gives you everything you need to know.
Thousands of supporters will be affected by train strikes ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final
Erik ten Hag (left) and Pep Guardiola (right) face off in the first-ever FA Cup final between Manchester United and newly crowned Premier League champions Manchester City
How will trains be affected?
On the day of the final, a union action by Aslef will affect national rail services, affecting thousands of City and United fans.
Train companies have warned that their services will be ‘severely restricted’ on Saturdays, leading most fans to look for alternative transport options.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “It is deeply disappointing that Aslef has decided to call strikes and ban overtime, targeting thousands of people attending the UK’s first Eurovision event in 25 years – including Ukrainians displaced by the war of Putin – and the very first ever in Manchester. FA Cup Final.
“The RDG’s fair and reasonable offer included urgent reforms to ensure our railways are financially sustainable for the benefit of passengers, railway staff and the taxpayer, as well as a pay rise – for members whose salaries already average £60,000 a year.”
Industrial action called for by the ASLEF is expected to significantly disrupt the finale
Trains will not be able to carry the tens of thousands of supporters expected to attend
The latest strikes by Aslef members are part of a long-standing dispute with the government and train companies over wages and working conditions.
The union said its negotiating team has met with representatives of the employers eight times in the past year to reach a solution.
Nevertheless, fans are still outraged by Aslef’s decision to target major sporting events as union action will affect both the FA Cup final and the Epsom Derby on Saturday.
Aslef chief Mick Whelan fanned the fire earlier this week by claiming the strike was a coincidence, telling the BBC: “We don’t do it on that basis, as you know. I don’t think there’s a day in this country where there isn’t a pop concert or something to experience.’
What are the alternative solutions?
The FA confirmed earlier this month that they will be organizing 120 coaches for Man United and Man City fans to help them get to Wembley for the FA Cup final.
Supporters heading to the game this weekend will face serious disruptions as there are currently no trains running from Manchester to London due to industrial action announced by the Asle union, which will shut down large parts of the rail network.
Manchester City’s last FA Cup game with their rivals was in the semi-final at Wembley in 2011
Avanti West Coast – the sole provider of direct services from Manchester to London – is one of 16 companies affected by the strike.
The FA confirmed they will run buses from Manchester to London to help fans get to the final, which will cost £60 return for adults and £55 for under-15s.
There will be 60 coaches for each club, with United and City fans being kept separate for the 400-mile round trip and not traveling together.
The coaches and those wishing to drive to the capital have been advised to take different itineraries to London, stopping at various petrol stations along the way.
The FA will provide additional transport for Man United and Man City fans traveling to Wembley
Transport for Greater Manchester has urged City supporters to take one of these routes into the capital: M62 and M1; M6 and M1; or M6, M6 Toll and M1, while United fans have been advised to take the M6, M42 and M40.
Highway services are also assigned to each club.
City fans have been asked to use Lymm, Sandbach, Stafford, Norton Canes, Corley, Rugby, Watford Gap, Northampton, Newport Pagnell, Toddington and London Gateway.
For United, fans are allocated Knutsford, Keele, Hilton Park, Warwick, Cherwell Valley, Oxford and Beaconsfield.