Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Train strikes: month of chaos begins as rail staff walk out on first 48-hour strike

Members of Rail, Maritime and Transport union press ahead with two 48-hour strikes at Network Rail

Mustafa Javid Qadri
Tuesday 13 December 2022 08:06 GMT
Comments
A month of rail disruption has begun with workers walking out in the first of a wave of 48-hour strikes, as nurses prepare to take unprecedented industrial action (Lynne Cameron/PA)
A month of rail disruption has begun with workers walking out in the first of a wave of 48-hour strikes, as nurses prepare to take unprecedented industrial action (Lynne Cameron/PA) (PA)

A month of rail disruption has begun, with workers walking out in the first of a wave of 48-hour strikes, shutting down much of the UK’s rail network.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are pressing ahead with two 48-hour strikes this week – involving workers from Network Rail along with 14 train companies. The first strike runs from Tuesday to Wednesday, the second from Friday to Saturday.

Tuesday is the first of 12 strike dates across December and January announced by the RMT, designed to disrupt the festive period.

On the parts of the network that are operating, trains will only run from 7.30am to 6.30pm on this week’s strike days, although many parts of the country will have no services, including most of Scotland and Wales.

“Due to industrial action, there will be significantly reduced train services across the railway from Tuesday 13 December until Sunday 8 January,” said Network Rail in a statement to customers.

“Trains will be busier and likely to start later and finish earlier, and there will be no services at all in some places.”

Passengers are warned to “only travel if absolutely necessary”.

But with further walkouts planned, Network Rail has warned there will be significantly reduced services, with trains more crowded and likely to start later and finish earlier until January 8.

After this week, the main period affected in December is the key Christmas week period, with RMT members also walking out from 6pm on 24 December until 7am on 27 December.

Asked if there is a glimmer of hope that strikes could be averted by successful negotiations, Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines told BBC Breakfast: “It’s hard to see that today. I’ve learned, you know, through a longcareer, that sometimes the light is just around the corner.

“But where I stand today, I’d have to say that with the level of disruption the RMT are imposing, the way forward isn’t obvious.”

But transport secretary Mark Harper said “almost 40 per cent” of RMT members at Network Rail had voted in favour of an offer to resolve the dispute despite “a very clear instruction from their union leadership”.

He told GB News: “I think the tide is turning on people seeing that the offers we have made are reasonable, taking into account both the travelling public but also the interest of taxpayers.”

The RMT said 63.6 per cent voted to reject Network Rail’s offer on an 83 per cent turnout.

Its general secretary Mick Lynch said: “This is a huge rejection of Network Rail’s substandard offer and shows that our members are determined to take further strike action in pursuit of a negotiated settlement.

“The government is refusing to lift a finger to prevent these strikes and it is clear they want to make effective strike action illegal in Britain.

“We will resist that and our members, along with the entire trade union movement will continue their campaign for a square deal for workers, decent pay increases and good working conditions.”

Additional reporting by agencies.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in