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How will passengers be affected as rail strikes return?

·5-min read

Another rail strike is due to take place on Wednesday, causing disruption for passengers across the UK.

– Who is going on strike?

More than 40,000 workers at Network Rail and 14 train operating companies are set to strike in England in a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out on Wednesday, potentially crippling rail services across the country.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has also announced a strike by its members at Avanti West Coast on the same day.

Network Rail pointed out that all train operators may be affected by the strike, whether they have an individual dispute with the RMT or not, as signallers control train movements across the entire country.

The companies affected by the RMT strikes are: Network Rail, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains, Heathrow Express, Lumo, Hull Trains, Grand Central, Transport for Wales, ScotRail, Merseyrail, Thameslink, London Northwestern Railway, Caledonian Sleeper, Stansted Express, and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

There will be no Gatwick Express services and passengers should also expect significant disruption to Heathrow Express and Stansted Express services.

The RMT has announced its picket line location details, with stations including Wembley between 5am and 5pm, Bristol Parkway between 7am and 1pm, and Penzance between 6am and 6pm.

– Will there be strikes on the London Underground?

Transport for London (TfL) said while the industrial action does not involve its staff, varying degrees of disruption are expected on the District and Bakerloo Tube lines, London Overground, and the Elizabeth line, which all share some sections of track with Network Rail.

The strike action will cause significant disruption to Elizabeth line services, with two trains per hour running on some lines.

On the London Overground, a reduced service will be in operation between 7.30am and 6.30pm, so passengers are advised to complete their journeys by 6pm.

Customers are being urged to check before they travel.

Passengers should also expect some disruption on Thursday morning, with a later start to services as signalling staff return to work.

TRANSPORT Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

– What are the strikes about?

Network Rail is introducing reforms. It comes as fewer passengers are travelling by train because of the pandemic, which has led to more people working from home.

They say a two-year, 8% deal with a no-compulsory-redundancy guarantee and other benefits and extras was on the table but the RMT left the talks.

– Why is the union striking?

The RMT said there has been no change or improvement in the pay offers it has received and said the threat of compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts to maintenance work had been raised.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said driver-only operations and the “ransacking” of members’ terms and conditions had also been put on the table by the train operating companies.

– Are any breakthroughs likely in this dispute?

There is plenty of bad blood around as Network Rail has accused the RMT of “obstinacy” and branded its action as a “political campaign” while the Department for Transport said the union is “hell-bent on creating further misery for passengers across the UK”.

It added that the rail industry has to modernise and be brought into the 21st century for the benefit of passengers and staff.

In turn, Mr Lynch has said the RMT’s members are “more determined than ever” to secure a decent pay rise, job security and good working conditions and they will not be bullied or cajoled.

He added that the Government needs to stop its interference in the dispute so the rail employers can come to a negotiated settlement.

– What will be the impact of the strike?

The strike will affect passengers travelling for holidays or attending events such as the women’s Euro 2022 semi-final in Milton Keynes on Wednesday, and the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham the following day.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – Previews – Monday 25th July
People travelling to the Commonwealth Games could be affected (Mike Egerton/PA)

Organisers of the Commonwealth Games have told attendees to check with their train operators if they are planning to travel by rail to Birmingham on Wednesday or Thursday, and advised looking into long distance coaches if trains are cancelled.

Network Rail expects a “very limited” timetable will be available across the country on the strike day, with around 20% of services running and some parts of the country with no rail services.

Trains will start later and services will finish much earlier than usual, with passengers told to expect disruption and only travel if necessary.

Chiltern Railways will not be able to operate services on most routes on Wednesday due to extremely limited availability of staff, and customers have been told to only travel if necessary on services such as Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway and Northern.

– Will there be more strikes after this week?

Members of the drivers’ union Aslef at eight train operators across the country will go on strike on Saturday.

Two further RMT strikes are set to take place on August 18 and 20 over job security, pay and working conditions.

The TSSA has also served notice for strikes across seven train operating companies on the same days in August, with strike action planned at Avanti West Coast, c2c, East Midlands Railway, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway, LNER, and Southeastern trains.

Action short of strikes will be taken at West Midlands Trains, Northern, Greater Anglia, TransPennine Express and Southeastern.

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