Rail strikes: When are the rail strikes this week?

Members of the RMT union, who work for 14 railway operators, are conducting further strikes in the current round of strikes.

Since June 2022, national rail strikes have caused problems for tens of millions of rail travelers in a tangle of disputes over pay, job security and labor regulations.

Since then, stops have been called again and again, leading to massive disruption for passengers.

These are the most important questions and answers.

Who is on strike and when?

The largest rail union, RMT, has ordered all its members working for 14 rail operators to go on strike on Thursday 16 March, Saturday 18 March, Thursday 30 March and Saturday 1 April.

The railway companies are the ones contracted by the Department of Transport. These include the leading intercity operators:

  • Avanti West Coast
  • cross country
  • East Midlands Railway
  • Great Western Railway
  • LNER
  • TransPennine Express

All London commuter operators will also be affected:

  • c2c
  • Greater Anglia
  • GTR (Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern, Thameslink)
  • southeast
  • Südwestbahn

Operators focused on the Midlands and North of England will be affected:

  • Chiltern Railway
  • Northern Trains
  • West Midlands trains

A planned strike, which also involved Network Rail workers, has been suspended pending a vote by RMT members.

What will the effect be?

Passengers can expect normal service at:

  • Caledonian sleeper
  • Grand Central
  • Heathrow Express
  • Hull trains
  • London uplands
  • lumo
  • Mersey Rail
  • ScotRail
  • Transportation for Wales

Trains operated by these companies are likely to be busier than normal on routes normally shared with train operators whose staff are on strike, such as London-York-Newcastle-Edinburgh and Swansea-Cardiff-Newport.

The exact proportion of normal services will vary from one train operator to another. Figures released by the government for a January 4 strike show Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway and LNER were operating between a quarter and a third of usual services.

For most commuter services in Greater London, it was about one in five.

The worst performer was Northern, which operated only one of 20 regular trains.

But the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents rail operators, says up to half normal trains could be running – although hours will likely be limited as many early and late services are cancelled.

The RDG said: “It is expected that between 40 and 50 per cent of train services will operate across the country, but there will be wide disparities across the network, with some areas having no service at all.

“It is likely that evening traffic will be affected on some lines on the days leading up to each strike. Morning traffic on these lines may also be disrupted on March 17th and 19th as much of the rolling stock will not be in the correct depots.”

Will Eurostar be affected?

No, but connections to and from the train operator’s main hub in London, St Pancras International, will be difficult as union members working for all three domestic train operators (East Midlands Railway, Southeastern and Thameslink) serving the station will disembark.

Why are they taking industrial action?

Railroad workers have been offered a minimum wage increase of 5 percent for 2022 and 4 percent for this year (with additional increases for lower-paid workers) as the “best and final” offer.

However, this is subject to the union accepting a wide range of changes to labor regulations.

The RMT calls for “an unconditional salary offer, a job security agreement, and no adverse changes imposed on members’ conditions and labor practices.”

Secretary General Mick Lynch said that after “extensive consultation of our 40,000 members” the overwhelming view was to reject “these terrible offers”.

He said: “Our members cannot accept that their terms and conditions are torn up or that safety standards on the rails are jeopardized under the guise of so-called modernization.

“Our industrial campaign will continue until a negotiated settlement is reached that meets our members’ reasonable expectations for jobs, pay and working conditions.”

The union says the RDG, which represents the rail operators, has invited negotiators to discuss the current dispute “but on condition that planned strike action on March 16-18 is suspended”.

The RMT declined the invitation but said it was “available for discussion…on creating a resolution to the dispute through an improved offer.”

What are the employers saying?

They are angry that union members were not given a chance to vote on the offers and that the RMT is now demanding an unconditional pay rise.

Employees’ union TSSA voted to accept a similar salary offer from rail operators that includes significant changes in labor practices.

Steve Montgomery, Chairman of Rail Delivery Group, said: “This latest round of strikes will be a further inconvenience to our customers who have already been experiencing disruptions for months, and cost our staff even more money when they can least afford it.

“You will also wonder why the RMT leadership blocked a chance to settle this dispute by refusing to give its members – many of whom would have benefited from a 13 per cent increase – a say in their own deal. “

Could the strikes be called off?

Certainly not on the first two days, March 16th and 18th. The government, which will ultimately approve and pay for the final settlement, and the union now appear to have embarked on a war of attrition.

The government knows that public trust is eroded by train unreliability. But Transport Secretary Mark Harper says “modernizing labor practices must be part of the reform.”

Regarding the current offers for members who work at Network Rail and the railway operators, he says: “The best and last means what it promises.” The railway is not financially viable.

Ministers believe cracks in union solidarity are emerging as rail workers are unlikely to recoup the money they have lost so far during the strike in the form of higher wages.

The RMT leadership, on the other hand, is betting that members will continue to heed the call for strikes and that the government will eventually cave in and agree to a non-binding deal.

The question now is who will retreat first. Right in the middle: the long-suffering passenger.

I booked a ticket for one of the strike days. What can I do?

The RDG says: “Passengers with advance, anytime or off-peak tickets for travel on March 16 or 18 can instead use their ticket the day before the date on the ticket or up to and including Tuesday 21 March.

“You can also have your ticket refunded without charge if the train the ticket was booked for is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.

“Tickets for travel on March 30th or April 1st can instead use their ticket the day before the date on the ticket or up to and including Tuesday April 4th.

“Passengers with season tickets (flexi, monthly or longer) who are not traveling can claim 100 per cent compensation for the strike dates through Delay Repay. “

Have the train drivers at least calmed down?

Far from it. Train drivers affiliated with the Aslef union held their eighth strike earlier this month in a similar wage dispute with government-contracted train operators.

They also ask for a non-binding offer. But The Independent expects the talks under the auspices of the Rail Industry Recovery Group to be positive and that the sides are slowly moving towards an agreement.

This includes a base wage increase of 7 percent or a little more, with co-payments for accepting modernizations like incorporating Sunday into the workweek where it isn’t already.

What’s going on on the London Underground?

Members of Aslef and the RMT union, who work for the London Underground, are on strike on March 15, the day before the first of the next wave of national rail strikes. Unions are at odds with Transport for London (TfL) over jobs, changes to work arrangements and pensions.

Mick Lynch said: “Our members will never accept job losses, attacks on their pensions or changes in working conditions to pay for a funding cut, which is a government policy decision.

“Metro workers perform an essential service for the capital, ensuring the city can keep moving and working long hours in demanding roles.

“In return, they deserve decent pensions, job security and good working conditions, and RMT will do everything we can to ensure that they get that.”

Nick Dent, Director of Customer Operations at TfL, said: “We have not proposed any changes to anyone’s pensions. We’ve been working with our unions to find out how we can make the London Underground a fairer and more sustainable place.

“We want to make the London Underground a better place to work so we urge Aslef and the RMT to end this damaging strike and continue to work with us.”

Almost all subway services are canceled for the day. The only exceptions will likely be some remote and isolated parts of the metro network, with the central area being completely closed.

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