Train strike on bank holiday Monday: National rail strike called off as unions agree to a new offer

Network Rail staff belonging to the RMT and TSSA unions had planned to strike on bank holiday Monday and Tuesday

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The Independent Online

Holidaymakers and commuters breathed sighs of relief as the threat of the first national rail strike in a generation was lifted.

Network Rail staff belonging to the RMT and TSSA unions had planned to strike on bank holiday Monday and Tuesday. After four days of talks at the conciliation service, Acas, the unions’ negotiators accepted an improved four-year pay offer.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, said: “Our negotiating team at Acas has received a revised offer from Network Rail. As a result of this, they have suspended the planned industrial action.”

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, told his members: “Please work your shifts, overtime and all other additional hours as normal next week.”

Before the settlement, train operators had revealed a scale of cancellations that would have seen millions of journeys wrecked. It would have been the most disruptive rail strike in a lifetime, because of the sheer numbers of passengers – at their highest since the 1920s.

Virgin Trains announced that, rather than trying to run some services and seeing emergency plans unravel, it would cancel all services between London Euston, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow on Monday and Tuesday. A statement on its website yesterday said it had reinstated its planned timetable for Monday and Tuesday, but warned passengers travelling between on Saturday, Sunday or Monday to still check their services as planned engineering works would still go ahead. Cornwall was to be devoid of services. CrossCountry planned to operate on only a tiny fraction, from Bristol to Plymouth and Derby to Newcastle.

South West Trains had suspended all services on Tuesday, which would have affected over 250,000 passengers using Waterloo Station in London. Even the Tube would have been hit, while Eurostar planned cancellations on the high speed line between London and France.

The bank holiday getaway started early, with British Airways reporting nearly 134,000 passengers flying from its three London airports yesterday. Its busiest day will be Monday, with over 135,000 departing passengers.