The RMT’s next national rail strike, on 27 July, is set to cause serious disruption once again.
Train operators have been warning their passengers not to try to travel next Wednesday during the walkouts.
Most operators will be affected, and even the few who are not involved, such as Transport for Wales, will still be facing disruption because of the absence of Network Rail signallers.
Network Rail said a special timetable would be published on Saturday, but is expecting only about 20 per cent of services to run between 07.30 and 18.30 at the most. It said ‘thousands of specially-trained and fully qualified back-up staff will again step in’.
Chief executive Andrew Haines said: ‘Despite our best efforts to find a breakthrough, I’m afraid there will be more disruption for passengers next week as the RMT seems hell-bent on continuing their political campaigning, rather than compromising and agreeing a deal for their members.
‘I can only apologise for the impact this pointless strike will have on passengers, especially those travelling for holidays or attending events such as the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 semi-final (on the 27th) and the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games (on the 28th). It is frustrating to yet again ask our passengers to change their plans and only make essential journeys.’
As before, there will be no trains at all on many sections of the network. GWR said it would have no service on any of the branch lines in Devon or Cornwall, and main line trains would go no further west than Plymouth. Trains from London to South Wales will terminate at Cardiff Central, and there will be no trains on many other GWR routes.
Northern will also suspend services on many lines, and said the rest would have only a ‘skeleton’ timetable, although Merseyrail will be providing a limited service.
Meanwhile, Greater Anglia is set to be affected by a separate strike on Saturday. As before, its services will be very limited.
Unless there is a breakthrough in the meantime, the RMT has announced further national strikes for Thursday 18 and Saturday 20 August.
Network Rail has made a pay offer of 4 per cent in the first year followed by up to 4 per cent in the second, although the RMT said there have been no offers from the operators.
The union’s general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘The offer from Network Rail represents a real terms pay cut for our members and the paltry sum is conditional on RMT members agreeing to drastic changes in their working lives.
‘We have made progress on compulsory redundancies. But Network Rail are still seeking to make our members poorer when we have won in some cases double what they are offering, with other rail operators.
‘The train operating companies remain stubborn and are refusing to make any new offer which deals with job security and pay.
’Strike action is the only course open to us to make both the rail industry and government understand that this dispute will continue for as long as it takes, until we get a negotiated settlement.’
Meanwhile, ASLEF members at eight train operators – Arriva Rail London (London Overground), Chiltern Railways, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains – are to stage a drivers’ strike on 30 July. The union’s general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘We want an increase in line with the cost of living – we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021.’