September’s rail strikes expected to be most disruptive yet

Above: Gunnersbury Station

Rail travel will be “effectively shut down” 

Rail workers in the RMT union are set to stage three more strikes over four days in September, which are expected to cause the most disruption to services so far, as disputes over pay and conditions continue. London Overground trains, which stop at Gunnersbury, are among those which will be affected.

About 40,000 workers at Network Rail and 14 train operating companies will strike on 15 and 17 September.

The first date coincides with the latest Aslef train drivers’ strike announced last week, meaning virtually no trains will run across much of Britain that day. Limited services on main lines have run during previous RMT strikes. In a separate dispute, Arriva Rail London will also be taking one day of strike action on 15 September

Talks between the unions and rail industry have been ongoing but there has been no breakthrough or new offer from either Network Rail or the operators, the union said.

Image above: a South Western Railway train at Chiswick Station

Strike dates and times

Thursday 15 September:

Aslef and RMT unions both on strike. Virtually no trains will run on most lines, particularly those where drivers are on strike: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Northern, Southeastern, TransPennine and West Midlands Trains. Some disruption is likely to persist on the morning of 16 September.

Saturday 17 September:

RMT strike – likely to see a limited service on main lines, broadly about 20% of normal schedule between 7.00am and 7.-0pm. After-effects will result in continued disruption on morning of 18 September.

Monday 26 September:

TSSA strike for 24 hours from midday by some members at Network Rail and nine train companies. Unlikely to cause significant disruption.

Image above: RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch

“No choice” but to take strike action, unions reps say

The major effect of the RMT strike is to deprive Network Rail of signallers, disrupting or stopping services across England, Scotland and Wales. Members working for train companies as onboard customer service staff, dispatchers or guards will also strike at: Chiltern Railways; Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands, c2c, Great Western, Northern, Southeastern, South Western, TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and Govia Thameslink Railway.

The RMT’s General Secretary, Mick Lynch, said:

“Our members have no choice but to continue this strike action.

“Network Rail and the train operating companies have shown little interest these past few weeks in offering our members anything new in order for us to be able to come to a negotiated settlement.

“Grant Shapps continues his dereliction of duty by staying in his bunker and shackling the rail industry from making a deal with us.

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

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said:

“We regret that, once again, passengers are going to be inconvenienced, because we don’t want to go on strike – withdrawing our labour, although a fundamental human right, is always a last resort for a trade union – but the train companies have forced our hand. They want train drivers to take a real-terms pay cut – to work just as hard this year as last, but for 10 per cent less.”

Image above: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

“Frustrating” strikes are “self-defeating”, say DfT an transport bosses

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said:

“Frustratingly, the RMT’s decision to call further action means we will again have to ask passengers to stay away from the railway on 15 and 17 September, at a time when we should be focusing on building a railway fit for a 21st century, post-pandemic Britain.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said:

“Yet again, union leaders are choosing self-defeating, co-ordinated strike action over constructive talks, not only disrupting the lives of millions who rely on these services but jeopardising the future of the railways and their own members’ livelihoods.”

Steve Montgomery, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, urged the RMT to call off the strikes.

He said the walk outs were “cynically timed to cause maximum disruption to the very passengers the industry depends on for its recovery”.

He added: “We absolutely want to give our people a pay rise and we know they are facing a squeeze – but the RMT must recognise that with revenue consistently at 20% below pre-Covid levels, the only solution lies in long-overdue reforms that will put the industry on a sustainable footing and improve services for passengers.”

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