During the national rail strikes planned for three dates at the end of June, only 22 per cent of passenger train services will operate, most of them on key links to and from London.
Members of the RMT rail union at Network Rail and 13 train operators voted 8:1 to strike over jobs, wages and conditions, and will hold 24-hour strikes on June 21, 23 and 25.
According to the RMT, it is “the biggest dispute on the network since 1989” and will involve 40,000 workers.
A senior rail source said the plan was to run “as decent a rail service as we can”.
Only around half of Britain’s rail network will be open on strike days, from around 7:30am to 6:30pm.
At Network Rail, the infrastructure provider, the most critical roles in the day-to-day running of the railway are 5,000 signalmen.
Management and other staff are expected to cover about half of the network for about 11 hours per day. Many lines will not see trains.
Wales and Scotland are expected to see a much smaller proportion of their networks open.
In Britain, 4,500 of the usual 20,000 daily passenger trains are expected to operate.
The key links to and from London that will be operational, clockwise from the Thames Estuary, are:
- HS1 from London St Pancras to Ashford (including Eurostar services to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam)
- London to Gatwick Airport and Brighton
- London Waterloo to Reading, Winchester and Southampton
- London Paddington to Reading, Taunton. Exeter, Plymouth, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff
- London Paddington to Heathrow Airport (all terminals)
- London Marylebone to Banbury
- West Coast Main Line from London Euston to Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow
- East Midlands Railway from London St Pancras to Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield
- East Coast Main Line from London King’s Cross to Leeds, York and Newcastle
- London King’s Cross to Cambridge and Ely
- London Liverpool Street to Stansted and Cambridge Airport
In addition, it will operate a limited number of key routes that will not touch London:
- Glasgow to Edinburgh
- Cardiff to the Dales
- London to Leeds
- Isle of Wight
- East-west links from Liverpool via Manchester and Leeds to Cleethorpes and Middlesbrough, with some trains serving Manchester Airport.
Even on operating lines, not all stations will be open. For example, Avanti West Coast says: “Due to the different signaling system in use on parts of the West Coast Main Line, which requires more resources to operate, the intercity operator is unable to stop trains at Stoke-on-Trent . , Macclesfield, Stockport, as well as Runcorn, on strike days and these stations will not be open.
On all operating lines, there will be strict limits on the amount of traffic that replacement signalmen may handle.
As a result of the limited schedule, key final services are scheduled to leave London at:
- Bristol 16:33
- Cardiff 16:27
- Birmingham 15:50
- Manchester 15:40
- Sheffield 15:31
- London 15:05
- New Castle 15:00
- Edinburgh 14:00
The industrial action is scheduled to affect services immediately before and after the strike dates, as well as the intervening Wednesday and Friday. In particular, the signalmen will not work at night, which will mean that the first wave of trains will be very limited on many routes.
Affected train operators include Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, GWR, LNER, Northern, Southeastern and South Western Railway.
In one train operator, GTR, the support was too low to pass the threshold of a strike. GTR normally has the highest ridership of any operator, with commuter travel on Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern services in the South East of England.
The dispute is expected to wipe out up to £150m in ticket revenue, with tens of millions of pounds in costs also incurred from engineering work that cannot be carried out.
The damage to upfront revenue will intensify if leisure and business passengers abandon plans to take train trips later in the summer.
Passengers with advance tickets are generally entitled to full refunds on strike days, even if the train is running. Train operators will not deal with claims for alternative transportation.
Of the 71 percent of members who voted, 89 percent supported the strike. This represents 63 percent of the voting workforce, with more than 25,000 workers.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch promised “a sustained campaign of industrial action that will shut down the rail system”.
The union says: “Network Rail and the train operating companies have put their staff through multi-year pay freezes and plan to cut thousands of jobs, which will make the railways unsafe.”
High-level railway sources insist that safety will not be compromised by modernization and that a reduction in staffing
The white-collar rail union, TSSA, is threatening what its general secretary called “a summer of discontent.” Members are being consulted ahead of a possible strike vote if the pay does not keep pace with inflation, which is expected to hit double figures by the summer.