UK rail strikes: passengers face further day of disruption

Rail passengers across Britain are facing another day of limited and disrupted services, as the RMT union stages a second 24-hour strike in three days in the long-running pay dispute.

Services were due to start late this morning and end early tonight with reduced schedules across England in particular, as about 20,000 train staff working for operators contracted to the Department for Transport (DfT) took action.

The strike coincided with the last day of a week-long overtime ban by train drivers in Aslef, as well as engineering work, compounding disruption and misery for travellers.

Passengers forced into cars and coaches will have to contend with extremely busy roads, as getaway traffic from the start of the school holidays in England and Wales is expected to peak on Saturday, according to motoring organisation forecasts.

Most of the 14 affected train operators will be running roughly half their normal timetables, although there are wide variations in service levels. The strikes will also hit cross-border trains serving Wales and Scotland, where staff are not directly in dispute.

Final departures on long-distance trains will come earlier in the afternoon, with Avanti West Coast running one train an hour between big cities. Engineering work on the mainline linking London and Glasgow is affecting services. LNER, CrossCountry and GWR will also cut schedules.

Others including Northern, TransPennine Express, Southeastern, Govia Thameslink Railway and Chiltern will stop services altogether on some lines and to many stations.

Most major airport rail services will run throughout the daytime, on one of the busiest weekends for flight departures from the UK, although a reduced number of Southern and Thameslink trains will substitute for the suspended Gatwick Express from London.

The Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators, said passengers should continue to check before travel. Some disruption is likely to continue into Sunday morning.

A spokesperson said the latest action, after a 24-hour strike on Thursday, would affect “not only the daily commute of our passengers” but family holiday plans, and mean “disappointment, frustration, and financial strain for tens of thousands of people”.

The last in the series of three 24-hour strikes planned by the RMT comes next Saturday, 29 July.

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Music and festival goers have been particularly affected by this wave of strikes, coinciding with a number of large events. The industry body LIVE said the strikes had put further pressure on a sector that had struggled through Covid and post-Brexit touring constraints, with strikes affecting travel to music festivals including Latitude, Bluedot and Womad.

Unions said the strikes have been forced by a lack of negotiation, with neither industry leaders nor ministers meeting them since they rejected below-inflation pay offers earlier in the year.

The DfT has urged the unions to first allow members a direct vote on the deals on the table.

A planned week of strikes on London Underground was called off yesterday after talks between unions and Transport for London.

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