A strike on London Underground will halt virtually all tube services and slow much of the capital to a crawl on Thursday, in the ongoing dispute over jobs and pensions.
Some London Overground and Docklands Light Railway services may also be affected by the 24-hour walkout by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union, while buses are expected to be extremely busy and roads congested. Elizabeth Line trains will run as normal.
About 10,000 RMT members working at London Underground and Arriva Rail (London Overground) will be on strike. Disruption will continue through Friday morning rush hour as staff return to work.
The union accused TfL of rejecting a last-ditch offer to call off the strike, if the transport authority agreed to pause plans and pledge to protect workers’ pensions. The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said TfL had “missed a golden opportunity”, adding: “TfL need to start making compromises and work with the union to reach a deal that works for staff and avoids further disruption to the lives of passengers.”
Glynn Barton, TfL’s chief operating officer, apologised to passengers. He said TfL had met with the RMT to urge them to call off the ube strike, adding: “Unfortunately, no agreement could be reached but we remain open for discussions as there is still time for the unions to call off this action.”
The Tube strike comes after three 24-hour strikes on national rail planned for this week were called off last Friday.
Some intercity rail passengers will still face some disruption on Wednesday, despite the notice. Avanti West Coast, which operates fast trains on the line linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, said it was hoping to eventually operate more services through the day and later into the evening, but on Tuesday was still advertising its published strike-day timetable. Fewer trains were set to run, starting later and ending by mid-afternoon.
Network Rail has said no new pay offer is on the table, beyond its 8% increase over two years with a £500 bonus for the lowest paid and a 75% unlimited rail travel discount – but it has extended the period in which it guarantees no compulsory redundancies until the end of January 2025. It has also paused the consultation over implementing new working practices, which was going ahead without union agreement.
The RMT is balloting members for a fresh six-month mandate for strikes, and the result is due next week. Financial support for the battered railway could also be squeezed by the government in Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement on 17 November, which could focus all parties to reach agreement sooner.
Formal talks between train operating companies and unions are expected to follow any Network Rail agreement.
The national executive committee of Aslef, the train drivers’ union, met yesterday but has not called further strike action. It has announced an overtime ban on LNER – a move that could impact east coast mainline intercity services, including trains between London, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
Most train operators rely to some extent on rest day working, which remains voluntary. However, the ban is unlikely to see LNER experience the level of cancellations that have plagued Avanti West Coast, which has been unable to persuade drivers to work overtime on the parallel mainline.
Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, said LNER was “riding roughshod over our working agreements”, adding: “It is clear to us that the company is flying on overtime and favours to run a full service rather than hiring enough drivers.”
Whelan said the union remained open to talks.
Source: The Guardian