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Train strikes: Commuters warned to expect disruption as 20,000 rail workers stage walkout in ongoing pay row | UK News

More than 20,000 rail workers will strike on Thursday in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions – with passengers warned they may experience severe disruption to services.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out on 20, 22 and 29 July while drivers in Aslef are banned from working overtime this week.

RMT members involved in the strikes include station workers, train managers and catering staff with 14 train companies affected.

Read more: A full list of July dates and services affected by industrial action

The industrial action will see variations in services across the country with trains due to start later and finish much earlier than usual.

Around half of train services will run in some areas, while others will have no services at all.

Services the evening before and morning after strike days may also be affected.

Passengers have been advised to check their journeys in advance.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the strikes would show the country “just how important railway staff are to the running of the rail industry”.

“My team of negotiators and I are available 24/7 for talks with the train operating companies and Government,” he said.

Mr Lynch said neither party had “made any attempt whatsoever to arrange any meetings or put forward a decent offer that can help us reach a negotiated solution”.

“The Government continues to shackle the companies and will not allow them to put forward a package that can settle this dispute,” he added.

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Starmer: Strikes ‘are government’s mess’

Meanwhile, Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said the union wants to resolve the dispute.

“Train drivers don’t want to be inconveniencing the public,” he said.

“We have given the Government and rail operators plenty of opportunities to come to the table but it remains clear that they do not want a resolution.

“Our members, the drivers who keep the railway running day in, day out, will not accept the Government’s attempts to force our industry into decline.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, joins union members on the picket line outside Newcastle station. Rail passengers will suffer fresh travel disruption in the next few days because of more strikes in long-running disputes over pay, jobs and conditions. Picture date: Wednesday May 31, 2023.
Image:
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, joins union members on the picket line outside Newcastle station in May

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “The upcoming rail strikes called by the RMT union and the overtime ban by Aslef will undoubtedly cause some disruption, affecting not only the daily commute of our passengers but also disrupting the plans of families during the summer holidays.

Members of the drivers' union Aslef on the picket line at Euston station, London, during their long-running dispute over pay. Picture date: Friday May 12, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Strikes. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Image:
Members of the drivers’ union Aslef on the picket line at Euston station, London in May

“This will lead to disappointment, frustration, and financial strain for tens of thousands of people. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and understand the impact on individuals and businesses.

“While we are doing all we can to keep trains running, unfortunately there will be reduced services between 17 July and 29 July so our advice is to check before you travel.

“Passengers with advance tickets can be refunded fee-free if the train that the ticket is booked for is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.”

Read more:
Train strikes – Full list of July dates, Tube and rail services affected by industrial action
Nearly every railway ticket office in England could close under plans due to be unveiled
RMT’s Mick Lynch insists rail strikes ‘have been a success’

London Underground passengers were also warned to expect disruption next week because of industrial action by the RMT and Aslef in a separate dispute.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The Government has met the rail unions, listened to them and facilitated improved offers on pay and reform. The union leaders should put these fair and reasonable offers to their members so this dispute can be resolved.”

Commuters hit with five days of rail strikes, amid fears millions of Britons may ditch trains for good | UK News

Strikes by rail and road staff are set to cause extensive disruption to commuters returning to work after the Christmas break – amid fears that continued walkouts could cause a years-long slump in demand for train travel.

About 40,000 members of the RMT union from Network Rail and 14 train operators are taking industrial action today, tomorrow, Friday and Saturday – meaning most services nationwide will not run.

Train drivers are also set to stage a one-day walkout on Thursday, meaning the UK’s rail network will be crippled throughout the first working week of 2023. Passengers have been urged to only travel if necessary.

Mick Lynch  general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) joins members on the picket line outside London Euston train station

In other developments, more than 100 road traffic officers and control room operators working for National Highways in England are launching their own 48-hour strike today.

While this walkout is expected to have little impact on the network, roads are expected to be busy on both days as commuters ditch the train and head to the office in their cars.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has warned that strikes on the railways will continue until the government stops “blocking” a deal to resolve the bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The union claims that – despite its best efforts over the festive period – rail employers have not arranged any formal negotiations.

Mr Lynch also alleges that an “unprecedented level of ministerial interference” is preventing progress from being made, and he said RMT representatives are “available around the clock for talks”.

RMT strike days will see approximately half of the network shut down, with just 20% of normal services expected to run. These trains will also start later and finish much earlier than usual, with journeys only possible between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

According to The Times, ministers fear that millions of passengers will give up on train travel altogether as a result of the worst week of rail disruption in 30 years.

A government source told the newspaper: “This is an act of self-harm – a generation of passengers will just write off the railways. We’re talking about permanent scarring. The longer the strikes continue, the greater the risk.”

But Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan, who represents train drivers, said workers have been left with little choice but to strike because they haven’t had a pay rise since April 2019 – with high levels of inflation resulting in a real-terms pay cut.

Stressing that his union is always happy to negotiate with train operators, he added: “The ball is in their court. The companies, or this Tory government which stands behind them, could end this dispute now by making a serious and sensible pay offer. It is up to them.”

The Department for Transport has warned that passengers have “rightly had enough of rail strikes” – and called on unions to stop taking industrial action.

A spokesperson said: “The government has demonstrated it is being reasonable and stands ready to facilitate a resolution to rail disputes. It’s time the unions came to the table and played their part as well.

“Inflation-matching pay increases for all public-sector workers would cost everyone more in the long-term – worsening debt, fuelling inflation, and costing every household an extra £1,000.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper will be interviewed live on Sky News at 7.20am this morning – followed by RMT general secretary Mick Lynch at 7.30am.