North West caught up in travel chaos as rail workers strike over jobs, pay and conditions

Video report by ITV Granada Reports journalist, Tim Scott.

North West rail passengers are among those experiencing fresh travel chaos after thousands of workers walked out on strike, affecting services across the country.

Disputes in the bitter row over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions are worsening, with more strikes due in the coming days.

Picket lines were mounted outside railway stations across the region as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 14 train operators went on strike.

Only around one in five trains are running on around half the network, with some areas having no trains all day.

Passengers are urged to only travel by train if they must, and, if it is necessary, to allow extra time and check when their last train will depart.

Trains will also be disrupted on Thursday morning with a later start to services as employees return to duties.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) has also announced a strike by its members at Avanti West Coast on Wednesday, while members of the drivers' union Aslef at seven companies will strike on Saturday.

At Liverpool Lime Street, passenger Jennifer Galvin, 74, had caught a train from Broadgreen, Liverpool, and was waiting for a service to New Brighton, Wirral, where she was going to look after her grandchildren.

She said: "I knew there was going to be a strike today but I've got an app to check when the trains are and I'm hoping I'll still be able to get there.

"There should be one service an hour running to New Brighton so we're hoping to catch one at 10.12am.

"The journey hasn't been too bad. The train here was packed but it hasn't been too chaotic. I think most people have chosen not to travel."

Tim Scott reports from an almost deserted Manchester Piccadilly

Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne joined workers on the picket line outside Liverpool Lime Street.

The Labour politician said: "What I'm seeing across the city is people absolutely struggling in the public and private sector.

"Wages aren't keeping up with inflation and it is really, really worrying.

"It's massively important for me to be here. I've been a trade unionist all my life and I will always back workers."

He said picketers were in good spirits and were "up for the fight".

Mr Byrne acknowledged industrial action was making it "extremely difficult" for people to get around Liverpool, where Arriva bus workers have been striking since last Wednesday, but added: "People's anger has got to be directed at the employers."

Despite the disruption, these commuters in Manchester supported the strike action.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said union members are more determined than ever to secure a decent pay rise, job security and good working conditions.

"Network Rail have not made any improvement on their previous pay offer and the train companies have not offered us anything new," he said.

Mr Lynch added: "RMT will continue to negotiate in good faith but we will not be bullied or cajoled by anyone."

Mr Shapps said in his three years as Transport Secretary there has not been a single day when unions have not been in dispute by threatening or taking industrial action, with around 60 separate disputes in 2022 alone.

"Today, union bosses are once again trying to cause as much disruption as possible to the day-to-day lives of millions of hardworking people around the country," he said.

"What's more, it has been cynically timed to disrupt the start of the Commonwealth Games and crucial Euro 2022 semi-finals, in a deliberate bid to impact the travel of thousands trying to attend events the whole country is looking forward to."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Credit: PA images

Writing in The Telegraph, the transport secretary Grant Shapps dubbed the strikes an example of "union collusion", adding he would seek to ban "strikes by different unions in the same workplace within a set period".

He said he would also look at implementing a 60-day cooling-off period after each strike, as well as ensuring critical industries like rail maintain minimum service levels.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: "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 Wednesday) and the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games (on Thursday)."

Members of the RMT and TSSA will launch co-ordinated strikes on August 18 and 20.

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