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UK economy dragged down by rail chaos

·Business Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
People walk through Liverpool Street station. Rail strikes had an impact on the UK economy
UK economy: Cafes and restaurants were amongst the businesses hardest hit by last week's rail strike. Photo: Reuters/Henry Nicholls

A series of rail strikes across Britain has dragged down the UK economy, new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown.

Key measures of real-time activity in the UK economy fell last week as the biggest rail strike in 30 years took place.

Consumer behaviour indicators showed that trips to transit stations fell 6% in the week to 26 June, compared to the previous week, while the number of transactions at most Pret A Manger stores also declined.

Retail and recreation, and grocery and pharmacy visits were unchanged from the previous week.

Its latest report of economic activity and social change also showed that the average number of diners in food outlets fell 16 percentage points to 111% of pre-pandemic levels, while there was a 1% fall in traffic camera activity for pedestrians and cyclists in London.

The average number of daily flights also fell 1% to 5,646 as staff shortages continued to create travel chaos for airports and airlines.

It comes as passengers at Heathrow have been plunged into chaos after the airport asked airlines to remove 30 flights from Thursday morning's schedule because it is expecting more passenger numbers than it can currently cope with.

A Heathrow spokesperson said the airport would work with airlines to try to rebook passengers onto other flights, "as many as possible" for later the same day.

A "small number" of British Airways flights are among those affected, with the airline saying it is in contact with affected customers. It is expected that 98% of flights out of the airport will operate as planned.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there is “no excuse for widespread disruption” and holidaymakers “deserve certainty”.

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Last week, staff at British Airways voted in favour of strike action, meaning more travel misery ahead for UK travellers.

Around 700 employees at London’s Heathrow airport balloted for industrial action, which is set to fall in line with the start of the summer holidays to cause maximum chaos.

Workers voted 95% in favour of a strike for better pay, with a 81% turnout, the union behind the strikes, GMB, said.

Read more: How BA strike will impact your summer travel plans

They are calling for the 10% pay cut imposed during the pandemic to be overturned.

GMB added that said holidaymakers now face a “gruelling summer of travel chaos”. The union must give BA two week's notice, so the strikes could start as soon as the beginning of next month.

However, according to reports, the union is looking at delaying strikes until the third or fourth weekend in July to coincide with the start of the summer holiday getaway to maximise “leverage”.

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