Rail strike: When is it and which lines would be affected?


Image source, Getty Images

Railway workers will go on a three-day strike over pay and jobs later this month.

The strike is expected to cause widespread disruption to passenger and freight services in England, Scotland and Wales.

When is the strike happening?

Strikes are due to take place on: 21, 23 and 25 June.

The action will “shut down” the country’s railway network, according to the union involved – the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).

RMT members include everyone from drivers, guards and catering staff to signallers and track maintenance workers.

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Events during the strikeStrikes planned for 21, 23 & 25 June

Which lines are affected?

People working for 13 train operating companies, which run services in different parts of the country, will take part in the strike. These are:

  • Chiltern Railways
  • Cross Country Trains
  • Greater Anglia
  • LNER
  • East Midlands Railway
  • c2c
  • Great Western Railway
  • Northern Trains
  • South Eastern Railway
  • South Western Railway
  • TransPennine Express
  • Avanti West Coast
  • West Midlands Trains.

In addition, workers at Network Rail, which maintains the railways throughout Britain, also voted to strike.

So, the impact of the action would be felt across England, Scotland and Wales.

What about other rail operators?

Workers at two companies who were part of the RMT ballot did not vote to go on strike.

GTR, which operates the Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express, voted for action short of a strike – for instance refusing to work overtime. And Island Line on the Isle of Wight voted against any action.

But even operators whose workers are not in favour of a strike expect services to be affected.

For example, Transport for Wales – which is not in dispute with unions – has warned of disruption because its trains use railways run by Network Rail.

In Scotland, the RMT has announced a strike ballot over ScotRail’s pay offer, although it’s not yet known when any action would take place.

Workers on the London Underground are also planning a strike in a separate dispute on 21 June.

What could the impact be?

The planned strike covers both the management of track, signals and tunnels (Network Rail) and the running of the trains (the train operators).

It will affect both passenger services and the movement of goods by train, including fuel and some food.

Image source, Getty Images

The government said it would prioritise the supply of food, goods and energy in the event of widespread strikes.

Trains might only run for part of the day, such as from 07:00 to 19:00 and only on main lines. Services could also be reduced to around a fifth of the normal weekday timetable.

Contingency plans are being worked on to keep some services running, but timetables would have to be scaled back.

Will I be able to get a refund?

Steve Montgomery, chair of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, told BBC News: “If we cannot provide a service for customers due to strike action then we will refund customers.”

But he added that members had not yet decided on the details of questions such as whether customers worried about the disruption would be able to cancel their trips in advance and get refunds, even if the strikes do not eventually go ahead.

The National Rail website suggests that there may be options available such as switching to a different operator or travelling a few days earlier or later than planned. But it says that customers will not be compensated for things like hotel stays that can no longer be used because of the disruption.

Season-ticket holders will be able to apply for a refund for the part of their ticket affected by the action.

Will I have to go to work?

The pandemic has made working from home more common. The Chartered Management Institute said it expected bosses to give staff flexibility to avoid the disruption where possible.

It said: “In terms of the direct impact on commuters, there’s no doubt it will be less than train strikes of two or three years ago.”

But not everyone will get that option. A “great divide” has emerged between people who can be flexible in such situations and those who have to come to work, it said.

Why is the strike happening?

The dispute is about pay, conditions and planned job cuts.

The RMT said members working for train companies have been subject to “pay freezes, threats to jobs and attacks on their terms and conditions”.

Network Rail plans to cut 2,500 maintenance jobs as it tries to make £2bn of savings over the next two years.

The RMT said the jobs are safety critical, and cutting them will make accidents more likely.

Network Rail said it would not consider any changes that would make the railways less safe and that modernisation is needed.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, has urged the union to call off the strikes. It says “no one wins in the event of a strike”.

Can a strike be avoided?

The strike would be called off if all parties can reach an agreement – and they all say they want to continue negotiations.

Network Rail said it will do everything it can to avoid industrial action.

The RMT said it was open to “meaningful negotiations”, but warned they would need “new proposals to prevent months of disruption on our railways.”



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