A proposed walk-out by Stagecoach bus drivers will now start a week later than originally planned in order to coincide with the start of the Wirral loop line closure.

The Unite union yesterday said 120 bus drivers, based at Stagecoach’s Rock Ferry depot, would go on strike for two weeks, starting on December 28, in a long-running dispute over pay.

But today Stagecoach said the strike action had been 'postponed' and would now start from Wednesday, January 4 – the day after train services shut down completely on the Wirral loop line for the start of track renewal works.

The change of date by the union could be seen as maximising the potential disruption for commuters as they face having to find alternative ways of travelling between this side of the water and Liverpool.

Merseytravel will be providing a rail replacement bus service operated by Arriva during the first phase of the works, when there will be no train services at all on the Wirral loop line for a period of six weeks.

In a brief statement, Stagecoach said: “Planned strike action which was due to take place between Wednesday 28 December and Tuesday 3 January, affecting Stagecoach bus services, has been called off and bus services 1, 2, 38, 41, 42, 471, 472 will operate as normal.

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“Strike action is currently still planned from Wednesday 4 January. However we expect to run the majority of services as normal during any strike action. Further details about planned service levels will be released nearer the time.”

Unite said it was taking the action because drivers had not had a pay rise since 2015 and after eight months of negotiations, the company had failed to increase its offer of 1.5% for 2016 and 2% for 2017.

The union was approached for comment.