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How will the rail strikes affect services?

·4-min read

Rail strikes are set to take place next week, causing misery for passengers.

– Who is going on strike?

More than 40,000 workers at Network Rail (NR) 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 July 27, potentially crippling rail services across the country.

Rail and Tube strikes
Network Rail said a ‘very limited’ timetable will be available across the country on the strike day (Ashlee Ruggels/PA)

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

NR pointed out that all train operators may be affected by the July 27 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 and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

– 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.

Customers are being urged to check before they travel.

Passengers should also expect some disruption on the morning of July 28, with a later start to services as signalling staff return to work.

– What are the strikes about?

NR 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.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

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 NR 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 July 27, and the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham the following day.

Birmingham Commonwealth Games
The Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Games (Jacob King/PA)

NR 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.

Special timetables are set to be published this Saturday but trains will start later and finish much earlier than usual. Passengers should expect disruption and only travel if necessary.

– 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 July 30.

Further RMT strikes are also planned for August 18 and 20.

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