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Wednesday, Dec 06, 2023

Londoners face travel misery with rail strike and cold weather

Londoners face travel misery with rail strike and cold weather

First 48 hour rail strike this week to cause chaos on Tuesday while Met says ice will also lead to more ‘difficult’ travel conditions

London will face more travel chaos on Tuesday as the start of a 48-hour rail strike and cold weather threaten to grind the capital to a halt.

RMT union members at 14 train operating companies rejected a pay offer from Network Rail and confirmed on Monday they will be walking off the job on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

The impact of the industrial action that is set to severely impact train services in the capital comes on top of chaos set to be caused again by the freezing weather.

The Met Office has issued a ice warning for the capital until 11am on Tuesday morning.

It warned: “Lying snow and icy patches will lead to difficult travel conditions during Monday and into Tuesday” and told people to expect “icy patches on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths” and “some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces”.
On strike days

roughly just 20 per cent of services will run between 7.30am and 6.30pm, National Rail warned, with commuters urged to check final train times and to only travel if “absolutely necessary”.

The Elizabeth Line will run a reduced service between London Paddington and Reading. Meanwhile Heathrow Express services between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport will finish at 6.30pm.

A reduced service is planned to run along the East Coast Main Line – which connects London King’s Cross, Peterborough, Doncaster, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh – between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

It comes after hundreds of flights, trains and Tubes were cancelled amid Monday morning commuter mayhem.

Sunday night’s snowfall in the capital left drivers stranded on the M25 for hours and more than 30 schools closed, forcing many parents to take time off work.

Nationwide some 7,500 drivers broke down and called the “exceptionally busy” RAC due to the freezing temperatures.

At Solihull in the West Midlands, three children rescued from a lake after falling through ice died in hospital, while a fourth remains in a critical condition.

Meanwhile hundreds of flights were axed, delayed or diverted with some stranded passengers forced to sleep on the floor at Gatwick.

Network Rail offer rejected

On Monday 63.6 per cent of an 83 per cent turnout of RMT union members voted to reject Network Rail’s latest offer, which included a 5 per cent and 4 per cent pay rise over a two-year period.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: "This is a huge rejection of Network Rail’s substandard offer and shows that our members are determined to take further strike action in pursuit of a negotiated settlement.

"The government is refusing to lift a finger to prevent these strikes and it is clear they want to make effective strike action illegal in Britain.”

Meanwhile National Rail said the strikes were “deeply frustrating” and “highly disruptive”, causing “misery to passengers right across the country” during the festive season.

David Davidson, Network Rail’s interim Western route director, said: “I would like to apologise to passengers and urge them to seek alternative ways to travel than by train and for those passengers who must travel by train to expect severe disruption, plan ahead and check the time of your last train home.”

Further rail strikes are planned between 6pm Christmas Eve and 6am December 27, as well as January 3,4,6 and 7.

The 14 rail companies involved are: Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c,Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern South Western Railway, Transpennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).


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