Travel chaos as rail strikes hit 14 train operators with more than half of all services cancelled

18 March 2023, 09:13 | Updated: 18 March 2023, 10:50

Britain brought to a standstill
Britain brought to a standstill. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Emma Soteriou

Train passengers are set to face fresh disruption on Saturday due to another strike by rail workers in the long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

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Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at 14 train operators are once again walking out, crippling services across the country.

Passengers were warned to check before they travel, with trains due to start later and finish much earlier than usual - typically between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

It is expected that nationally between 40% and 50% of train services will run but there will be wide variations across the network, with no services at all in some areas.

Operators including Avanti West Coast and LNER are among those to have warned passengers that disruption is on the cards. 

Great Western Railway said it would only be running a "very limited service" while East Midlands Railways told passengers to only travel by train "if absolutely necessary".

Services may also be disrupted on Sunday morning because much of the rolling stock will not be in the right depots.

Read more: 'Summer of discontent': Brits' holiday fears as more than a million passports at risk due to month-long strikes

Read more: More than 175,000 NHS appointments lost after junior doctors went on strike

General Secretary of RMT Mick Lynch talks to about the railway strikes

Steve Montgomery, who chairs the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), said: "This latest round of strikes will be a further inconvenience to our customers, who have already experienced months of disruption, and cost our people even more money at a time they can least afford it.

"They will also be asking why the RMT leadership blocked the chance to resolve this dispute by refusing to give their members - many of whom would have benefited from a 13% increase - a say on their own deal.

"Unfortunately, while we will pull out all the stops to keep as many trains running as possible, there will be reduced services across many parts of the rail network on strike days, so our advice is to check before you travel.

"Tickets for 30 March and 1 April can be used the day before, or up to and including Tuesday 4 April."

The RMT said that more than 20,000 workers would be taking strike action unless there is a negotiated settlement.

General secretary Mick Lynch told LBC's Andrew Castle that the government needed to work with rail workers through "agreement, not imposition".

Speaking on an RMT picket line at central London's Euston station, the union boss later added: "We need a change in attitude. "We've seen a bit of that in the health service and maybe in the teachers' unions.

"The difference in that is there are no conditions, it's new money - but our members are expected to swallow vast changes to their working conditions and they're not prepared to do that to get a very modest, poor pay rise."

He continued: "In order to get something moving they'll have to take away some of the conditions they've put on this proposal, and we want some fresh money in the pay proposal, so we'll see what happens next week.

"They've got 18 points that they want us to concede on our members' terms and conditions, their contract of employment, what they're paid and how they're rostered, how they do their work, what they get for sick pay, what they get for holiday pay, all sorts of things that are in a bundle as you'd expect, they want to dilute."

RMT members went on strike on Thursday and more stoppages are planned on March 30 and April 1.

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