March train strikes 2023: fresh disruption as RMT stage first of four UK-wide walkouts

Passengers are being warned to expect disruption on the railways

Train services will be crippled across the UK today as rail workers stage the first of four 24-hour strikes.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) at 14 operators will walkout in a long-running row over pay, jobs and conditions.

Passengers are being warned to brace for disruption on Thursday (16 March) and check before travelling as only 40-50% of train services are expected to run.

There will be wide variations across the network, with no services at all in some areas. Trains that do run will start and finish much earlier than usual - typically between 7.30am and 6.30pm. Services on Friday morning (17 March) may also be disrupted because much of the rolling stock will not be in the right depots.

Train services will be crippled across the UK today (Photo: Getty Images)Train services will be crippled across the UK today (Photo: Getty Images)
Train services will be crippled across the UK today (Photo: Getty Images)

The disruption will continue at the weekend as staff walkout again Saturday 18 March, and two more 24-hour walkouts are planned for Thursday 30 March and Saturday 1 April. The 14 train companies where staff are striking include:

  • Avanti West Coast
  • C2C
  • Chiltern
  • CrossCountry
  • East Midlands Railway
  • GTR (Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern)
  • Great Western Railway
  • Greater Anglia
  • LNER
  • West Midlands, including London Northwestern Railway
  • Northern
  • South Western Railway
  • Southeastern
  • TransPennine Express

Steve Montgomery, who chairs the Rail Delivery Group, said: “This latest round of strikes will be a further inconvenience to our customers, who have already experienced months of disruption, and cost our people even more money at a time they can least afford it.

“They will also be asking why the RMT leadership blocked the chance to resolve this dispute by refusing to give their members – many of whom would have benefited from a 13% increase – a say on their own deal.

“Unfortunately, while we will pull out all the stops to keep as many trains running as possible, there will be reduced services across many parts of the rail network on all four strike days, so our advice is to check before you travel.”

Passengers are being warned to brace for disruption (Photo: Getty Images)Passengers are being warned to brace for disruption (Photo: Getty Images)
Passengers are being warned to brace for disruption (Photo: Getty Images)

The union is seeking an unconditional offer from rail operators and Network Rail, but RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said rail employers “are not being given a fresh mandate by the government to offer our members a new deal on pay, conditions and job security.”

He added: “Our members will now take sustained and targeted industrial action over the next few months. The government can settle this dispute easily by unshackling the rail companies. However, its stubborn refusal to do so will now mean more strike action across the railway network and a very disruptive overtime ban.

“Ministers cannot continue to sit on their hands hoping this dispute will go away as our members are fully prepared to fight tooth and nail for a negotiated settlement in the months ahead.”

In response to the latest strike action, a Department for Transport spokesperson said: “RMT members at train operating companies are being denied a say on their own future, while being forced to lose more pay through avoidable strike action.

“We urge the RMT’s executive to put the Rail Delivery Group’s very fair offer to a democratic vote of their members, like it has on two separate occasions for RMT members working for Network Rail.”

The train strikes come as a fresh wave of industrial action continues to spread across the country. Teachers in England and university staff are also striking in a continuation of a walkout on Wednesday, when they took part in one of the single biggest days of action in a decade.

Up to half a million teachers, lecturers, junior doctors, civil servants, London Underground drivers, BBC journalists and Amazon employees stopped work on Budget day. Union officials at a rally in London attended by tens of thousands of strikers and supporters said the strike sent a strong message to the government over its handling of the disputes.