Nicola Bunting

Image caption,

Ms Bunting said her family is facing extra expenses due to the strike

A Somerset mother says the upcoming rail strikes has thrown plans to see her son graduate into disarray.

Network Rail and more than 2,100 South West Rail (SWR) union members are set to strike on 21 June, 23 June and 25 June, causing disruption.

Nicola Bunting from Bath said she is “disappointed” after her train to St Andrews, Scotland, to see her son graduate was cancelled.

SWR apologised for its reduced timetable.

The Rail Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union says its members were opposing stagnating pay and proposed job losses and wanted “justice”.

Image source, PA Media

Image caption,

Disruption is expected on non-strike days because fewer staff will be working and Network Rail has urged passengers to only travel by train if necessary

Ms Bunting said her son’s university graduation had been cancelled for the past two years due to Covid, and had been rescheduled for next week.

“We had booked the sleeper train from London to Edinburgh as a treat to celebrate the special occasion, but this was cancelled due to the strike,” she said

She then booked flights to Scotland but these were cancelled. After rebooking flights, Ms Bunting said she now faces the stress of trying to get to Gatwick Airport without any trains running.

‘So disappointed’

“I am so disappointed by the total disruption, stress and significant added expense caused to my family at what should be such a special time, especially one that has already been postponed twice due to Covid.”

Nicola said she has no sympathy with rail workers who are striking over their pay and pensions.

“I think it’s super selfish of them. People need the rail to go about their essential business. It just seems like they’re holding the country to ransom, really,” she added.

South Western Railway’s managing director Claire Mann said: “I am sorry these strikes will cause such disruption and am grateful to our customers for their patience and understanding as the rail industry works to bring this damaging nationwide action to an end.”

Follow BBC West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to: bristol@bbc.co.uk