Only one in five British trains to run on final day of planned strikes

Industrial action over pay and working conditions has caused almost four weeks of disruption

The last day in the latest stretch of railway strikes has begun, ending a run of almost four weeks of continuous disruption caused by industrial action over pay and working conditions.

Only about one in five trains across Great Britain will run on Saturday as a 48-hour walkout by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union concludes, with no early morning or evening services and a pared-back schedule on main intercity and urban lines.

Much of Wales, Scotland and rural England will have no trains running, with thousands of signallers at Network Rail, as well as train crew, going on strike.

Passengers have been advised to avoid taking trains, and to continue to check for updates in case of further cancellations should they attempt to travel by rail.

Services should be restored by early afternoon on Sunday on most lines, although some operators have warned that it will take all weekend to fully return to normal. No trains will run from London King’s Cross until Monday due to engineering works.

Union leaders and rail bosses will meet the rail minister, Huw Merriman, on Monday to restart talks to resolve the long-running dispute.

The RMT rejected separate pay offers from Network Rail and train operators in December, heralding a period of 10 strike days and an ongoing overtime ban for train staff, which ended this week.

No further strikes are scheduled by the union, nor by the train drivers union Aslef, whose members also went on strike this week, holding a 24-hour stoppage on Thursday.

The Department for Transport said on Friday afternoon that train operators had sent a written offer to the Aslef union of an 8% pay rise over two years to train drivers – a 4% rise backdated for 2022 and a further 4% from January 2023. However, the proposal would oblige drivers to work Sundays, among other changes to working practices.

Steve Montgomery, the chair of the Rail Delivery Group, said it was a “fair and affordable offer in challenging times, providing a significant uplift in salary for train drivers while bringing in common-sense and long-overdue reforms”. The RDG said it would take the average train driver salary to almost £65,000.

Aslef said on Friday evening it had yet to receive the offer. Earlier this week, the union’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, told the Guardian that any offer demanding significant workplace reform while not matching inflation would most likely be rejected by members.

The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, admitted on Friday that public support for rail unions had been dented by weeks of strikes. But he said the government was “losing the argument” in the long-running pay dispute, with moves by Rishi Sunak to tighten anti-strike laws showing the government was simply hoping to close down opposition to austerity.

Network Rail has estimated that the total cost of the strikes so far in lost revenue to the industry has now passed £400m.


Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘No real hope’ of avoiding biggest rail strike in 30 years, says Network Rail
Passengers across Great Britain told not to attempt to travel on 21, 23 and 25 June unless necessary

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

15, Jun, 2022 @2:57 PM

Article image
Rail industry and RMT resume talks amid hopes of end to strikes
But drivers’ union Aslef set to reject initial pay offer from train operators, meaning resolution is some way off

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

16, Jan, 2023 @5:49 PM

Article image
Train drivers from 12 firms to strike over pay in September, says Aslef union
Stoppage likely to be most disruptive to date after coordinated strikes by union members in July and August

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

31, Aug, 2022 @3:00 PM

Article image
Strike action to wipe out most train services across Great Britain on 1 October
Network Rail advises passengers not to travel as a third rail union confirmed it would join the strike

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

23, Sep, 2022 @1:22 PM

Article image
Train drivers to hold first of three rail strikes in England this week
Aslef members will hold widespread stoppages on Wednesday and Saturday, while RMT crew and station staff will strike on Friday

Joe Middleton

30, May, 2023 @4:00 PM

Article image
Rail strikes: trains halted as passengers face weekend of disruption
Aslef and RMT unions deny targeting Eurovision final in Liverpool with stoppages in long-running pay dispute

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

12, May, 2023 @1:58 PM

Article image
Rail strikes: showdown talks planned as country comes to a standstill
Unions, ministers and industry bosses to meet amid wide-scale disruption caused by only 20% of rail services running

Joe Middleton and Joanna Partridge

14, Dec, 2022 @6:07 PM

Article image
Rail strikes: the lines affected in Great Britain and travellers’ rights
Industrial action by RMT members means a ‘very limited timetable’

Joanna Partridge and Zoe Wood

27, Jul, 2022 @6:05 AM

Article image
UK ministers ‘losing argument’ over rail strikes, says Mick Lynch
RMT leader says public support for unions has ‘taken a dent’ but is still high despite travel disruption

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

06, Jan, 2023 @3:36 PM

Article image
Rail unions say government plans to limit strikes will ‘enrage’ members
Kwasi Kwarteng announces moves that oblige unions to ensure trains run ahead of sustained industrial action

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

23, Sep, 2022 @1:32 PM