The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers said that following intense negotiations, there “was an agreement where the company would commit to an improved offer on pay and working towards a negotiated settlement”, however, Network Rail bosses “reneged on their promises” and sought to “impose job cuts, more unsocial hours and detrimental changes to rosters”.
“In a crass attempt to cut the union out of national negotiations, Network Rail have written directly to staff undermining delicate talks and have tried to rehash a previous deal that RMT has categorically rejected,” RMT said in a statement.
When are Network Rail staff striking?
Network Rail has warned of fresh strike dates for November. Originally, the first date was set to be Thursday 3 November. However this was cancelled due to a clash with the Royal British Legion's London Poppy Day appeal, and instead a new day of action was announced for the following week.
Now it has been confirmed that members of the RMT will walk out on the following dates:
- Saturday 5 November
- Monday 7 November
- Wednesday 9 November (new date announced)
This is strike action which will affect the network on a “national scale” and Network Rail has warned of “very limited service on these days with no services at all on some routes”.
There is also expected to be a knock-on effect of the strikes, with services to start “later than usual in the morning on Sunday 6, Tuesday 8 and Thursday 10 November,” Network Rail added.
Are there regional train strikes?
There is also more localised strike action planned. RMT members who are train managers on Avanti West Coast will walk out on Sunday 6 November, and in Scotland, ScotRail RMT members will also walk out for 24 hours on Saturday 29 October. Additionally, it has been anounced that staff at 14 other train companies are due to strike on 5 November. On Thursday 10 November there is planned action affecting London Underground services.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Throughout this whole dispute, the Rail Delivery Group has been completely unreasonable by not offering our members any deal on pay, conditions and job security. Some of our members on the train operating companies are some of the lowest paid on the railways.
“This stands in stark contrast to rail operating company bosses making millions of pounds in profit. We remain open to meaningful talks, but we are steadfast in our industrial campaign to see a negotiated settlement for all our members in this dispute.”
What has Network Rail said?
Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “A two-year 8% deal, with discounted travel and a new extended job guarantee to January 2025, is on the table ready to be put to our staff.
“Unfortunately, the leadership of the RMT seem intent on more damaging strikes rather than giving their members a vote on our offer. Me and my team remain available for serious talks and continue to negotiate in good faith.
“Our sector has a £2 billion hole in its budget with many fewer passengers using our services. That reality is not going to change anytime soon and a fair and affordable and improved deal is on the table, ready to be implemented if our people were only offered the opportunity.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson also added: “This is incredibly disappointing. Through no fault of their own, millions of people will once again have their day-to-day lives disrupted and be unable to attend work, school or vital doctor’s appointments.
“Our railway is in desperate need of modernisation but all more strikes will do is take it back to the dark ages and push passengers further away.
“We urge union bosses to reconsider this divisive action and instead work with employers, not against them, to agree a new way forward.”
What if I have a train ticket booked for a strike day?
If you previously booked train tickets on dates that have turned out to be strike days, you have some options about what you can do - generally, you should be able to change your travel day, or you can request a full refund.
It will depend which company you booked your tickets through, and what kind of tickets you bought.
National Rail says: “If you purchased an Advance, Off-Peak or Anytime ticket and choose not to travel at all because your service on either your outward or return journey has been cancelled, delayed or rescheduled then you will be entitled to a refund or change from the original retailer of your ticket.
“In the event of your service being affected by strike action, cross-industry ticket acceptance between different train companies and temporary removal of certain ticket restrictions may be made available.”
Rail services affected
Network Rail urged passengers to only travel if absolutely necessary, warning that on strike days only one in five trains will run, and only between 7.30am and 6.30pm. Rugby fans attending the Wales versus New Zealand game at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday are told to not travel by train.
On strike days across National Rai’s Western route – between Penzance and London Paddington – passengers were warned to expect an extremely limited service with no CrossCountry trains running and no services south west of Weston-super-Mare, including the whole of Devon and Cornwall.
It was also announced that a very limited GWR service will run on the following routes between: London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads, London Paddington and Cardiff Central, London Paddington and Oxford, Reading and Basingstoke, Oxford and Didcot Parkway, Cardiff Central and Westbury via Bristol Parkway, Bristol Temple Meads and Weston-super-Mare, and Branch lines serving Windsor, Marlow and Henley-on-Thames.
Up to 35,000 people normally travel into Cardiff by train for international rugby matches, with more than 20,000 getting a return home. Due to the strike, inbound capacity by rail in the hours leading up to kick-off (15.15) will be heavily reduced – two thirds lower than usual – and there will be no trains scheduled from Cardiff after the match.
The next phase of Elizabeth line services will be launched on Sunday, with the lines from Reading, Heathrow, and Shenfield connecting with the central tunnels of the new cross-London route. While this is not on a strike day, services will start later than usual and passengers are encouraged to check on the TfL website for the latest timetable information during the week of strike action.