UK rail passengers urged not to travel as strikes go ahead

UK passengers have been urged only to travel “if absolutely necessary” on Thursday and Saturday after it was confirmed that planned strikes by rail workers will go ahead.

The latest industrial action by an estimated 40,000 members of the RMT will see only around 20 per cent of the UK’s normal train schedule operating on 18 and 20 August, with some parts of the country having no rail services at all on these days.

RMT members have already taken three days of strike action in June and July in an ongoing dispute over pay and jobs with Network Rail and the train operating companies. Train drivers, who are members of the Aslef union, have also taken separate industrial action this summer.

Network Rail is introducing special timetables for this week’s two strike days with trains starting later and finishing earlier than usual between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

The walkouts by RMT members will affect the following train operators: Avanti West Coast, c2c, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, GTR (including Gatwick Express), Hull Trains, LNER, London Northwestern, London Overground, Northern, Southeastern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, West Midlands Trains, Heathrow Express and Stansted Express.

Passengers traveling on Friday (19 August) and Sunday (21 August) are also being warned that there is “likely to be some disruption” in the early morning of both days as workers return to their duties. A planned strike by London Underground is also due to take place on Friday.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, said: “It saddens me that we are again having to ask passengers to stay away from the railway for two days this week due to unnecessary strike action, when we should be helping them enjoy their summers.

“We’ll run as many services as we can on Thursday and Saturday, but it will only be around a fifth of the usual timetable, so please only travel if absolutely necessary and if you must travel, plan ahead and check when your last train will be.”

Steve Montgomery, chair of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the train companies, added: “If you’re not able to travel on 18 or 20 August, you can use your ticket either the day before or up to and including 23 August, otherwise you will be able to change your ticket or claim a refund.”

Confirming that this week’s strikes will go ahead, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Network Rail has not made any improvement on its previous pay offer and the train operating companies have not offered us anything new.

“RMT will continue to negotiate in good faith but we cannot tolerate being bullied or hoodwinked into accepting a raw deal for our members.

“The government need to stop their interference in these disputes so the employers can come to a negotiated settlement with us.”

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