Rail services are being cut back on Monday ahead of three one-day strikes across the network this week, as well as a one-day strike on London’s Tube.
With members of the RMT union due to strike on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, National Rail has published what it calls a ‘special timetable’ beginning on Monday, which it said aims to offer the best service possible to passengers and freight services.
The infrastructure operator said only around half of Britain’s rail network will be open on strike days, with a very limited service running on lines that are open from around 07:30 until 18:30.
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It advised passengers to know the time of their last train and consider if they can travel another way, adding that passengers who have bought a ticket who decide not to travel will be entitled to a refund.
Network Rail added that on the days following strike days the whole network will re-open but passengers should also expect disruption until services recover.
On Saturday the RMT confirmed that the strikes would go ahead after talks failed to resolve the many issues involved, which include possible cuts and job losses, below inflation pay offers and other issues over workers’ terms and conditions.
In a statement, the union said: ‘Despite the best efforts of our negotiators no viable settlements to the disputes have been created.
‘It has to be re-stated that the source of these disputes is the decision by the Tory Government to cut £4bn of funding from our transport systems - £2bn from national rail and £2bn from Transport for London.’
Ministers have declined to take part in the talks, despite ultimately setting the framework for any potential settlement. On Monday morning Treasury minister Simon Clarke told the BBC that the railway would have to ‘financially sustain itself’.
Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, said: ‘Without [the Government] there, it's impossible for them to find a way forward and therefore, it is inevitable that industrial action will happen.’
Transport for London (TfL) said that with the RMT and Unite unions planning 24 hours of strike action on the Tube Tuesday, it expects severe disruption across its network. It ‘strongly encouraged’ passengers not to travel on its services on Tuesday and before mid-morning on Wednesday, unless absolutely necessary.
TfL added that the national rail strikes will impact London Underground, Overground and Elizabeth line services from Tuesday until and including Sunday.
Addressing the issues behind the dispute, TfL said no proposals have been tabled on pensions or terms and conditions, and nobody has lost or will lose their jobs because of the proposals it has set out but added that pressure from ministers ‘means TfL must speed up its pre-pandemic savings programme’.
TfL said it has committed to its staff and trade unions that the safety of staff and customers ‘will always remain paramount’ and that what it called ‘the changes’ will protect as many jobs as possible.
Motoring organisations have said the strikes are likely to add to congestion on the roads.