Major rail disruption as conductor strike action continues


Passengers have been experiencing major rail disruption in Cumbria and the south of Scotland this weekend, as some Transpennine Express conductors walked out again in a long running dispute over pay.

The RMT Union announced the strike action after its members voted 89% in favour of a strike.

Kathryn O’Brien, Customer Experience Director for TransPennine Express said: “Ongoing strike action by RMT continues to disrupt people’s journeys, right across our network.

“We are asking anyone planning a journey by rail on Sunday to avoid travel where possible and only travel if they absolutely have to."

A replacement bus service is in operation between Carlisle and Edinburgh/Glasgow on Sunday 30 May.

RMT workers vote for biggest strike action in decades

Meanwhile more rail disruption is expected in the coming weeks.

A week ago railway workers voted overwhelmingly to strike in a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions - a move that threatens massive disruption to rail networks in the coming weeks.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 15 train operators backed launching a campaign of industrial action.

The union's leaders will now decide when to call strikes, which will bring huge parts of the network to a standstill.

It's a move that comes just days after Scotrail announced almost a third of services would be cut under a temporary timetable which could be in place for weeks as drivers stage industrial action, the company has said.

RMT said it was the biggest endorsement for industrial action by railway workers since privatisation.

A total of 71% of those balloted took part in the vote with 89% voting in favour of strike action and 11% voting against.

The union will now be demanding urgent talks with Network Rail and the 15 train operating companies.

What does the strike mean for services?

A walkout by Network Rail signallers will have a significant impact on services.

Trains may only run for part of the day, such as from 7am to 7pm and only on main lines.

Services could be reduced to around a fifth of the normal weekday timetable.

Who has voted to strike and why?

The RMT said it balloted more than 40,000 of its members at Network Rail and the following train operating companies: Chiltern Railways Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern Railway, South Western Railway, Island Line, Govia Thameslink (including Gatwick Express), Transpennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains.

The union says Network Rail intends to cut at least 2,500 maintenance jobs as part of a £2 billion reduction in network spending, while train companies' staff have been subject to pay freezes, threats to jobs, and attacks on their terms and conditions.

What's the reaction been?

Andrew Haines, Network Rail's chief executive, said: "The RMT has jumped the gun here as everyone loses if there's a strike. We know our people are concerned about job security and pay.

"As a public body, we have been working on offering a pay increase that taxpayers can afford, and we continue to discuss this with our trades unions.

"We urge the RMT to sit down with us and continue to talk, not walk so that we can find a compromise and avoid damaging industrial action.

"We are at a key point in the railway's recovery from the pandemic. The taxpayer has provided the industry with £16 billion worth of additional life support over the last two years, and that cannot continue.

"Travel habits have changed forever, and the railway has to change as well to adapt to this new reality. 

"We believe that by modernising – creating safer jobs for our people and operating the railway more efficiently – we can build a sustainable future with a railway that delivers for passengers and taxpayers.

"Any industrial action now would be disastrous for our industry's recovery and would hugely impact vital supply and freight chains. 

"It would also serve to undermine our collective ability to afford the pay increases we want to make."