Rail strikes: only 1 in 5 normal train services to run on Saturday

Network Rail tells passengers in Great Britain to travel only ‘if absolutely necessary’

Only about 20% of normal train services will run on Saturday as another strike by railway workers brings disruption to lines across Great Britain.

Network Rail urged passengers to “only travel by train if absolutely necessary”, with about half of the network closed all day and those trains running only operating between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

More than 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 15 train operating companies are halting work on Saturday in a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions. Services will start later than normal the next day as staff return to posts.

The RMT strike on Saturday coincides with strikes by members of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) at Avanti West Coast, c2c and Transpennine Express. TSSA members carried out a 24-hour strike at Cross Country from midday on Wednesday and another at GWR from midday on Thursday. Drivers from the union Aslef also went on strike on Wednesday, hitting the last day of Conservative party conference.

The strikes over pay and conditions are latest in a rolling programme by unions across the sector this year. Last Saturday, coordinated action between the RMT, Aslef and some TSSA and Unite members knocked out trains between London and other major cities.

Anyone who wished to travel this Saturday should check first with National Rail Enquiries or train operator websites for updates, Network Rail said.

Passengers with Saturday tickets whose journey are cancelled or rescheduled can either get a refund or can use them to travel on Friday or another day up to and including Tuesday. Season ticket holders are entitled to compensation through the delay repay scheme.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “Despite our best efforts to compromise and find a breakthrough in talks, rail unions remain intent on continuing and coordinating their strike action … We’re asking passengers who want to travel this Saturday to only do so if absolutely necessary. Those who must travel should expect disruption and make sure they check when their last train will depart.”

Daniel Mann, director of industry operations at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail companies, said: “Further action by the RMT and TSSA leadership will only damage the railway’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We want to give our people a pay rise, but we need the leadership of trade unions to make a commitment to reform, which is how we can improve services and deliver a fair deal for our people, passengers and for taxpayers.”

The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “It is simply false to say RMT is not committed to reform and modernisation of the railways. Rail bosses need to stop trying to strip thousands of jobs from the industry, give us a pay rise that helps deal with the cost of living crisis and protect our members’ working conditions.

“Modernisation and reform does not have to come at the expense of jobs and cutting safety standards on the network. And the rail industry need to understand that RMT will always protect its members’ interests and the safety of the travelling public.”

The TSSA’s general secretary, Manuel Cortes, said: “We do not strike lightly but are prepared to dig in as we seek a fair deal on pay, job security and conditions in the face of cuts, economic collapse and a cost of living crisis at the hands of this chaotic Tory government … It’s time for ministers to get wise and act now to deliver a fair deal which will halt a winter of rail misery across the network.”


Tom Calverley

The GuardianTramp

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