Train services will be crippled again on Saturday because of another strike, causing fresh travel misery for passengers.
The walkout by members of the train drivers’ union Aslef coincides with the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley and the Epsom Derby as well as other sporting and music events.
Football fans have been advised not to travel by train to Wembley, leaving thousands having to drive to London instead.
The strike follows a walkout by train drivers on Wednesday and by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Friday in long-running disputes over pay, jobs and conditions.
“We are determined to get a resolution and remain in this for the long haul.
“It is time for the Government to step back from interference which is preventing a deal – drivers, in line with other workers, deserve a pay rise after four years without one and inflation running, over the last 12 months, north of 10%,” he said.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said around 40% of trains will run on Saturday but there will be wide regional variations with some areas having no services.
Mr Whelan said the “dead hand” of the Government is preventing a deal to end the dispute.
He described an offer of a 4% pay rise for last year and another 4% this year as “dismal”, adding that there has been no contact between the union and the employers or the Government for weeks.
Picket lines will be mounted outside train stations across the country on Saturday, with drivers at 15 companies in England going on strike.
The RDG said the strikes were causing “disappointment and frustration” for tens of thousands of people.
“It will inconvenience families who have been looking forward and have planned their half-term holidays. It will also further burden our people who have already lost thousands of pounds at a time of financial strain.”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has accused the Government of “deliberately squandering” billions of pounds on a “futile war” against the rail unions.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “These strikes have been coordinated by union leaders to disrupt passengers in a week which will see major events such as the first-ever all-Manchester FA Cup final, the Epsom Derby and a number of concerts and festivals across the UK.
“Not content with impacting the hundreds of thousands of people who have looked forward to these events all year round, unions are also targeting their own members’ pockets by forcing them to miss out on pay every time they strike.
“The Government has facilitated a fair and reasonable pay offer, now union leaders must do the right thing and put this to their members.”