Rail passengers face disruption on cross-border services amid strikes

CrossCountry, TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast and LNER have all reported disruption on services between Scotland and England.

Rail passengers face disruption on cross-border services as RMT members walk out on strike iStock

Train passengers are being disrupted on cross-border services between Scotland and England on Saturday as rail workers strike as part of a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) walked out, forcing 14 train operators to amend or cancel services across the UK.

The strike does not involve ScotRail and the operator said its timetable will operate as normal over the weekend.

However, CrossCountry, TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast and LNER have all reported disruption on services between Scotland and England and a reduced timetable.

Passengers are urged to check their full journeys before embarking.

Services are also being disrupted because of a ban on overtime by train drivers in the Aslef union.

The deadlocked dispute is being made worse by a bitter row over controversial plans to close most railway ticket offices.

Speaking from a picket line at Edinburgh Waverley station, Mick Hogg, the RMT’s organiser for Scotland told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland the strikes still had public support.

He said: “All we are seeking at the end of the day is a fair pay rise to protect terms and conditions.

“We do still have public support. If you take the ticket offices, for example, if you speak to members of the public, what they want is to see staff at station, they want to see booking offices in order to help and assist people who are needing support.

“Particularly, vulnerable people and disabled people who actually want help and support when using Scotland’s trains and train services south of the border.”

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said staff will be moved from behind screens and on to station concourses, but unions believe more than 2,000 jobs will be axed.

The RDG said that since the first RMT strike in June 2022, industrial action had cost the sector around £620m.

It said in a statement: “This has stalled its post-pandemic recovery and threatens its long-term sustainability, pushing the industry in to a spiral decline and risking consequences like cuts to services to make up the shortfall.

“Revenue levels are still 30% below pre-pandemic levels.

“The strikes have hit the wider economy – particularly sectors still recovering from the impact of the pandemic which employ hundreds of thousands of people.

“Analysis by Hospitality UK shows that with the upcoming rail strikes set to cost hospitality £132m in sales, the cumulative impact of the rail strikes is £3.25bn.”

The RMT held a strike on Thursday and will stage another walkout on July 29.

An RDG spokesperson apologised for the inconvenience, adding: “The rail strikes called by the RMT union and the overtime ban by Aslef will undoubtedly cause some disruption, affecting not only the daily commute of our passengers but also disrupting the plans of families during the summer holidays.

“While we are doing all we can to keep trains running, unfortunately there will be reduced services between Monday July 17 and Saturday July 29, so our advice is to check before you travel.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said striking rail workers were still waiting for an invitation back to the negotiating table.

“We’ve been on strike for over a year, this campaign’s probably been running for two years.

“The issues are the same. They’re attacking our jobs. They’re making redundancies. They’re closing services.

“We haven’t had a pay rise for four years and the people that remain, they want to cut our conditions and issue new contracts of employment.

“There is not an agreement in sight at the moment but we remain available for negotiation with the companies and with the Government, but that’s up to them to invite us back to the table so that we can work up some solutions to the dispute.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The Government has met the rail unions, listened to them and facilitated improved offers on pay and reform. The union leaders should put these fair and reasonable offers to their members so this dispute can be resolved.”

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