Last-minute talks between unions and rail bosses will continue on Monday ahead of strikes that are set to cause significant travel disruption across the country.
The walkouts will be Britain’s most widespread industrial action this century, reducing services by around 80 per cent.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has said it will “intensify” its strike campaign if members don’t get an agreeable deal.
People are being advised not to travel on strike days, and that services will be disrupted for the rest of the week.
When are the strikes?
The strikes are planned for:
- Tuesday 21 June
- Thursday 23 June
- Saturday 25 June
On Tuesday 21 June, up to 50,000 workers across Network Rail, 13 train operators and London Underground are due to walk out.
On Thursday 23 and Saturday 25 June, about 40,000 rail operators – but not London Underground staff – will strike.
Trains will start later and finish much earlier than usual, between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
Passengers who must travel are urged to plan to ensure that they can complete their journeys within this window, with last services from London to Scotland, for example, leaving in the early afternoon.
Here are a selection of last train times between London and other major cities.
From London to:
- Edinburgh – 2pm
- Leeds – 3.05pm
- Newcastle – 3.43pm
- Birmingham – 3.40pm
- Manchester – 2.56pm
- Liverpool – 3.31pm
- Sheffield – 3.31pm
- Nottingham – 4.09pm
- Bristol – 4.33pm
- Brighton – 5.50pm
- Norwich – 4.30pm
- Southampton – 5pm
To London from:
- Edinburgh – 1.30pm
- Leeds – 3.45pm
- Newcastle – 2.59pm
- Birmingham – 3.50pm
- Manchester – 2.47pm
- Liverpool – 3.47pm
- Sheffield – 4pm
- Nottingham – 4.12pm
- Bristol – 4.30pm
- Brighton – 5.29pm
- Norwich – 4pm
- Southampton – 4.59pm
National Rail has updated its journey planner for the strike days. It advises using the planner – which you can find here – if you need to travel.
Will the strikes affect other days in the week?
The knock-on effect of the disruption is likely to be felt throughout the rest of week, it has been warned.
Many operators will be running reduced services, and those that run are expected to be busy due to people avoiding travelling on strike days.
If you are planning to travel make sure to check your journey using the National Rail journey planner.
Network Rail route director Mark Killick said: “We’re so sorry for the disruption next week and we know how difficult this will be for our customers so soon after the pandemic.
“We’ve trained 250 staff so we can keep some of the busiest lines open, focussing our resources on the routes that can keep the largest numbers of customers and freight moving and serving vital locations such as hospitals. That said, we will not compromise on safety and the strike does mean that large parts of the network will be closed.
“We are continuing to work with unions to find a solution and will keep doing so. But we also have to be honest and accept that we have to change the way we work, to reflect the changes in society and travel patterns post pandemic.
“Again, I’d like to apologise to everyone who finds their journeys disrupted next week and urge our customers to check before they travel.”
Which railways will be affected?
Thirteen operators on the national network are expected to be affected:
- Avanti West Coast
- Chiltern Railways
- Cross Country Trains
- East Midlands Railway
- Greater Anglia
- Great Western Railway
- Northern Trains
- South Eastern
- South Western Railway
- TransPennine Express
- West Midlands Trains
Why are workers striking?
The RMT says this is the biggest outbreak of industrial action in the industry for a generation.
Union members voted overwhelmingly for action last month in a disputes over pay and job losses.
The RMT said rail staff who worked through the pandemic were facing pay freezes and hundreds of job cuts.
Mick Lynch, the RMT’s general-secretary, said: “Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the Government has failed to take their concerns seriously.
“We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1 per cent and rising.
“Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.”
He added that the union was “open to meaningful negotiations with rail bosses and ministers, but they will need to come up with new proposals to prevent months of disruption on our railways”.
He said the union will “run this campaign for as long as it takes to get a settlement” – possibly for more than six months.
The union said more than 50,000 railway workers would walk out on Tuesday 21 June, and the action would affect the national railway network for the entire week.
Network Rail said it is “doing everything we can” to avoid the strike action.
Andrew Haines, chief executive, said last week: “There are two weeks until the first strike is planned. We will use this time to keep talking to our unions and, through compromise and common sense on both sides, we hope to find a solution and avoid the damage that strike action would cause all involved.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described the move as “incredibly disappointing”.
He added: “The pandemic has changed travel habits – with 25 per cent fewer ticket sales and the taxpayer stepping in to keep the railways running at a cost of £16bn, equivalent to £600 per household. We must act now to put the industry on a sustainable footing.
“We are working with industry to reduce disruption caused by strike action, but unions are jumping the gun by announcing this when talks have only just begun.”