Travel chaos expected as thousands of rail services are canceled due to strikes

Closed gates at Paddington underground station in London. A strike by London Underground drivers has shut down the entire network. Drivers in Aslef and the Railway, Shipping and Transport Union (RMT) dropped out in disputes over pensions and working conditions. Picture date: Wednesday March 15, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Strikes. Photo credit should read: Peter Clifton/PA Wire

Paddington Station staff in London go on strike (Image: PA)

Huge queues and travel chaos are expected this morning as thousands of train services have been paralyzed by strikes.

Mass strikes by rail workers this morning have resulted in congested highways and nightmarish journeys for thousands of workers.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) of 14 operators are on strike in a long-running dispute over wages, jobs and working conditions.

Passengers have been warned to expect disruption and again on future strike dates on Saturday 30 March and 1 April.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Hesther Ng/SOPA Images/Shutterstock (13824389f) London commuters are seen at Waterloo station in the morning during rush hour. Over 10,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) took part in the strike action across the London Underground service on Spring Budget Day that paralyzed the London transport network. University and College Union teachers and British Medical Association junior doctors are also on strike today in a dispute over pay and working conditions amid the cost of living crisis. RMT Tube Strike in London, UK - March 15, 2023

Over 10,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) took part in the strike action yesterday and more are expected today (Image: Hesther Ng/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)

Trains that run start later and end much earlier than usual – usually between 7:30am and 6:30pm.

It is expected that between 40% and 50% of train services will operate across the country, but there will be wide disparities across the network, with some areas having no service at all.

Friday morning operations may also be disrupted as much of the rolling stock is not in the correct depots.

Steve Montgomery, Chairman of Rail Delivery Group, said: “This latest round of strikes will be a further inconvenience to our customers who have already been experiencing disruptions for months, and cost our staff even more money when they can least afford it.

“You will also wonder why the RMT leadership blocked a chance to settle this dispute by refusing to give its members – many of whom would have benefited from a 13% increase – a say in their own deal.

“While we will be pulling out all the stops to keep as many trains running as possible, unfortunately there will be restricted services across many parts of the rail network throughout all four days of the strike, so we recommend checking before travelling.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “RMT members at railway companies are being denied a say in their own future while being forced to forfeit more wages through avoidable strikes.

‘We urge the Board of RMT to subject the Rail Delivery Group’s very fair offer to a democratic vote of its members, as has been done on two separate occasions for RMT members working for Network Rail.’

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Railway employers are not being given a new mandate by the government to offer our members a new deal on pay, conditions and job security.

‘Therefore, our members will now take sustained and targeted industrial action in the coming months.

“The government can easily settle this dispute by unleashing the railway companies.

“However, their stubborn refusal to do so will now mean further strikes across the rail network and a very disruptive overtime ban.

“Ministers cannot continue to sit on their hands hoping that this dispute will be resolved as our members are fully prepared to fight tooth and nail for a negotiated settlement in the coming months.”

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Justin Scacco

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