SHANTY lovers have been left disappointed following the cancellation of a popular themed train to Harwich’s International Shanty Festival.

The Sea Shanty Train was set to make two journeys between Harwich and Manningtree and back on Saturday with entertainment from pirates and shanty singers including Crossjack and Nordet.

But the special trains have now been cancelled due to planned national rail strikes by the RMT Union.

The strike was set to take place last month but was postponed due to the death of the Queen.

The Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership said: “With great regret we must cancel both of our Sea Shanty Trains on Saturday due to the proposed rail strike.

“There will be no trains running on the branch line.

“We have asked Greater Anglia to arrange a refund of all tickets purchased for both trains."

The 16th Harwich International Shanty Festival is set to take place from October 7 to 9 and will include artists from the Netherlands, France, Poland and all over the UK, including The Longest Johns and Brasy.

There will be concerts, singaround sessions, workshops, illustrated talks, guided walks, maritime crafts, street theatre and enactments.

The Community Rail Partnership's Shanty Trains have been running for a number of years as part of the festival.

Shanty festival organiser Pam Fitzgerald said: “I respect people’s right to strike, but it will have a big effect on the festival.

“Both trains were sold out, a lot of families had bought tickets and were coming from Manningtree and further afield and will be very disappointed.

“It’s not just the shanty train, but a lot of people would have been coming to Harwich by train as they would have been able to have a drink as well.

“It’s a real shame."

A Greater Anglia spokesperson added: “We are very sorry that the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership’s sea shanty train has been cancelled due to national industrial action by the RMT union on Saturday. Due to the strikes, we are unable to run any services to/from Harwich on Saturday.

“All customers who purchased tickets will be refunded. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”