Mass strikes across UK rail networks spark more transport misery for commuters

MASS strikes across UK rail networks have sparked more travel chaos for commuters this morning.

Union members with South Western Railway, Arriva Rail North, Merseyrail and Greater Anglia have walked out for 24 hours.

2018 Howard Jones / i-Images

Commuters have already faced disruption this week during the disputes - pictured is Waterloo station on January 8

This follows action on Monday, with another stoppage due to come on Friday tallying up three days of disruption for commuters this week.

Rail users vented frustrated at another day of chaos as they struggled to get to work on time, with some having just paid up thousands for a season ticket.

Picket lines mounted outside railway stations affected by the strike are set to leave passengers facing delays, cancellations and replacement buses in some parts of the country today.

The union says the dispute is over concerns over the role of guards, safety fears and job losses - sparked from plans to introduce driver-only operated trains.

No 7.21 train from Milford to Waterloo today because it’s the 2nd day of @SW_Help strike this week, but a train did just speed through the station without stopping. Absolutely furious having just paid £3684 for a season ticket.

— Francesca Lopez (@franmblopez) January 10, 2018

Argh train strike 😣 #late

— Jane Saltmarsh (@JaneSalty) January 10, 2018

— Darren Chouings (@Chouings) January 10, 2018

What services will be running during the strikes?

  • Northern said it would continue to run around 1,350 services on strike days, more than half its normal timetable, with most between 7am and 7pm.
  • SWR plans to run more than 70 per cent of its normal weekday service of 1,700 trains, although there will be rail replacement buses, arrangements to have tickets accepted on other train companies and most routes will see a reduced service.
  • Greater Anglia plans to run a normal service, with no alterations.
  • Merseyrail will run a reduced service, mostly between 7am and 7pm, with a break during the middle of the day.

The RMT said it had not received a response from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to its call for a summit involving his department and the train companies aimed at resolving the disputes, similar to agreements reached in Wales and Scotland.

General secretary Mick Cash said: "Every single effort that RMT has made to reach negotiated settlements in these separate disputes with the different train operating companies over safe operation and safe staffing has been kicked back in our faces and we are left with no option but to press ahead with the action exactly as planned.

"No one should be in any doubt, these disputes are about putting the safety of the travelling public before the profits of the private train companies.

"It is frankly ludicrous that we have been able to negotiate long-term arrangements in Scotland and Wales that protect the guards and passenger safety but we are being denied the same opportunities with rail companies in England."

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on South Western Railway (SWR) will walk out for 24 hours today

A Department for Transport spokesman said job losses will not come with driver-operated trains, adding: "This is a dispute between a private company and the RMT. However, the Transport Secretary recognises the disruption caused to passengers and has met with union leaders on several occasions, including as recently as December, to help bring an end to the strikes.

"He offered guarantees of employment to members who currently fulfil the role of the second person on the train beyond the length of the franchises - instead the RMT called strikes on five train companies to cause maximum disruption to passengers."

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Officials from SWR and Network Rail pledged to make improvements after recent poor performance when they were called to a special meeting by the industry's independent watchdog.

Bosses were questioned by Transport Focus following delays and disruption to services to and from Waterloo since an £800 million upgrade at the station last August.

The watchdog said the move followed months of declining punctuality and major disruption across the SWR network.

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