More than 40,000 railway workers will strike next week after talks failed to resolve a dispute over wages, jobs and conditions.
Members of two unions will pull out on Wednesday July 27, affecting rail services across the country – the latest industrial action to add to the country’s transport problems.
Who is on strike?
Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members of 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).
Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) at Avanti West Coast.
The train operator I am using is not on the list so my journey will not be affected, right?
Network Rail said all train operators could be affected whether or not they are part of the dispute.
Signalmen, for example, control train movements across the country.
Will the London Underground be affected?
The industrial action does not involve Transport for London workers, but there could be disruption on lines that share the track with Network Rail.
These are the District, Bakerloo and Elizabeth lines, as well as the London Overground.
There could also be disruption the morning after the strike – July 28 – as things return to normal.
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What if I have to use the trains?
Passengers were told to expect disruption and only travel if necessary.
But if you are really determined or desperate, be aware that the trains will start later and finish much earlier than usual.
The timetable will be published later today (Saturday July 23) but Network Rail has said it will be “very limited” – around 20% of services will be running.
Some areas of the country will have no service.
What events could be affected by the rail strike?
The Euro 2022 women’s semi-final takes place in Milton Keynes on the day of the strike.
The Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony is in Birmingham the following day.
I’ll just drive or fly
It’s not going to be very fun either.
The roads are busy with summer holiday traffic – the The Port of Dover had queues of up to six hours on Fridays, while the usual culprits such as parts of the M25 and M5 are best avoided during peak periods.
When it comes to flights, staff shortages at airports and airlines have led to thousands of flights being canceled and delayed – with no end in sight.
What are the strikes about?
Network Rail chief negotiator Tim Shoveller said the company had offered workers a 8% wage agreement over two years with guarantee of non-forced dismissal and other benefits.
He said the RMT had “gone without giving its members a voice or a choice”.
“Our door remains open to try to avoid this unnecessary action which will cost the strikers dearly.
“We will now reflect on how we are going to move forward with our reform plans despite the stubbornness of the RMT.”
The RMT said there had been no changes or improvements to the salary offers it had received.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said Network Rail had “raised the bar, threatening to impose mandatory redundancies and dangerous 50% reductions in maintenance work if we do not withdraw our planned strike action”.
“The rail companies have put driver-only operations on the table while trashing our members’ terms and conditions.
“RMT will continue to negotiate in good faith but we will not be intimidated or cajoled by anyone.”
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What are the train operators saying?
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, said: “Unfortunately these RMT strikes will upend passengers’ summer plans, undermine businesses and disrupt the recovery of the industry, making it more difficult financing a settlement.
“We want to give our employees a pay raise, but we have a responsibility to do so by making sensible changes to long-outdated working practices – already successfully introduced in some parts of the network – that will improve punctuality, reliability and passenger experience.
“The alternative is to ask passengers to pay more when they too feel the pressure, or to ask the taxpayer to contribute even more to the operation of the railway on top of the record amounts spent to keep trains running during the pandemic and with revenues still 20% down from pre-COVID levels. None of these options is fair.
“Rather than moving forward with these counterproductive strikes, we’re asking RMT management to keep talking so we can reach a deal that works for our people, our passengers and the taxpayers.”
And the government?
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The rail industry must modernize and move into the 21st century for the benefit of passengers and staff.
“We are extremely disappointed that instead of staying at the table, RMT’s leaders have chosen to walk away once again.
“We continue to encourage RMT to do the right thing for its members and passengers and to call off the strikes.”
If there is no breakthrough, what happens next?
Members of the Aslef drivers’ union from eight rail operators strike on July 30. This will affect Chiltern, LNER, Northern, TransPennine Express, Arriva Rail London, Great Western, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains. Earlier this month, Aslef members at ScotRail voted to accept an improved pay offer from their bosses.
Further RMT strikes are scheduled for August 18 and 20.