WIDESPREAD travel disruption is expected across Wales and England tomorrow on the first of three days of planned strikes by rail staff.

The strikes are being led by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union, which says the action is “a last resort” and centres on pay and job cuts.

“Every worker in Britain deserves a pay rise that reflects the cost-of-living crises," the RMT said. "All working people should have the benefit of good negotiated terms, conditions, working practices and occupational pensions that will ensure their living standards in retirement.”

Wales’ main rail operator Transport for Wales (TfW) is not directly involved in this week’s strikes.

But there will still be widespread disruption to train travel throughout nearly all of Wales, because some Network Rail staff will be on strike.

While TfW runs trains in Wales, nearly all of the nation’s rail infrastructure – things like the rails, bridges, tunnels and signal boxes – are owned by Network Rail, which is an arms-length UK Government agency.

This means TfW trains will not be able to run on the days of the strikes, even though the firm is not in dispute with the RMT.

Unions have called for the UK Government to take a seat at the negotiating table and push for a settlement, but ministers argue the dispute is between workers and the rail companies which employ them.

The UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps said the RMT had been “gunning” for industrial action for weeks, and accused it of “punishing” millions of “innocent people” who will be affected by the strikes.

Motorists, meanwhile, are being warned to expect a surge in traffic as train passengers switch to road transport during the rail strikes.

The AA predicted that the worst affected roads are likely to be main motorway arteries, as well as rural and suburban areas.

An AA route planner spokesman said: “Even though the strike is for three days, many travellers will give up on the trains for the whole week.

“It coincides with big events like Glastonbury and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, so drivers not going to those locations are advised to give the areas a wide berth.

However, they suggested the impact on the roads "will be slightly cushioned by record fuel prices" deterring some drivers from getting behind the wheel.

Further strikes are planned for June 23 and 25.