More misery for rail commuters as the RMT calls another national strike

More misery for rail commuters as the RMT calls another national strike

Service line: Passengers at Britain's busiest railway station, London Waterloo (Simon Calder)

Service line: Passengers at Britain’s busiest railway station, London Waterloo (Simon Calder)

Rail passengers will find services disrupted by strikes on five of the first nine days of October.

The RMT union called for more than 40,000 workers employed by Network Rail and 15 train operators on Saturday 8 October. The stop will also affect trains the following day.

The recently announced strike comes in addition to industrial action on Saturday 1 October from RMT and Aslef, the train drivers’ union, which will disrupt trains the following day.

The drivers who work for a dozen train operators will also walk out on Wednesday 5 October. This means that of the first nine days of next month, normal services can only be expected on 3, 4, 6 and 7 October.

Announcing the extra strike, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch confirmed the union had been involved in talks with the new transport secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

Mr Lynch said: “We welcome this more positive approach from the Government to engage as a first step towards finding an appropriate settlement.

“But since no new offer has been put forward, our members have no choice but to continue this strike.

“We will continue to negotiate in good faith, but the employers and the government must understand that our industrial campaign will continue for as long as it takes.”

The main effect of the strike will be to shut down at least half of the passenger line due to the absence of around 5,000 Network Rail signallers. Some trains will run on the remaining part of the network, but with much reduced service.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “This latest strike will again mean very significant disruption for passengers and we would ask people to only travel if absolutely necessary due to the reduced service that will be in place. Full timetables for all upcoming strike days will be published in due course.”

Train operators include the major London-focused firms: Greater Anglia, GTR (including Southern, Great Northern, Thameslink at Gatwick Express), Southeastern and South Western Railway.

Major intercity operators will be affected: Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express.

The remaining operators are Chiltern Railways, c2c, Northern Trains and West Midlands Trains.

Northern Ireland Railways and the Island Line on the Isle of Wight will not be affected.

The rail unions are engaged in a deep and bitter dispute over pay, jobs and working practices with Network Rail, the train operators and the authorities.

Union bosses say that the Ministry of Transport (DfT) is pulling strings and preventing the operators from making wage offers that will approach today’s rate of inflation – almost 10 per cent.

The government maintains that any wage settlement must contain productivity agreements for “modernisation” of the railway network. Since the coronavirus pandemic, ticket revenue has fallen by a fifth with far fewer commuters buying season tickets.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said: “This strike will affect sports fans, friends and families who plan to attend and RMT members themselves who have already lost, at least, many hundreds of pounds due to industrial action since June.

“Instead of staging more counterproductive action that will alienate the very customers we need to secure the industry’s long-term future, RMT management should commit to serious reform. That’s how we can improve services and deliver a fair deal for our people, passengers and for taxpayers.”

The rail strike was carried out on World Car Free Day.

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