Passengers face new disruption as first of four UK-wide rail strikes begins


Another day of blighted rail services has begun in Britain as RMT members at 14 train operating companies take part in the first in a wave of four 24-hour strikes.

Commuters across England are broadly the hardest hit by the latest action. Passengers have been urged to check before travel and in some places to take a train only if absolutely necessary, with most affected operators running final services by early evening.

Train operators said they would “pull out all the stops” with contingency staff to keep services running, but fewer than half are expected to run overall, with some routes closed entirely.

Thursday’s strike does not involve RMT members at Network Rail, including critical signallers, which means Transport for Wales, ScotRail and Merseyrail services are not directly affected. A planned Network Rail strike was suspended pending a referendum on a pay offer, which closes on Monday.

However, cross-border services will be reduced, particularly on LNER, where last London-Edinburgh trains depart in the early afternoon. Other long-distance operators, including Avanti, GWR and East Midlands, will run hourly intercity services.

Others, including Northern, TransPennine and Chiltern, will not run trains across their normal network. C2C will remain largely unaffected.

Some early disruption was expected to persist on London Underground services today after a strike by the RMT and Aslef halted Tube trains on Wednesday. Parts of the Elizabeth Line will also be affected by the national rail strikes.

Around the country, disruption from the national rail strikes is expected to roll into early Friday morning, while a second strike will take place on Saturday. Two further strikes are scheduled by RMT train staff for 30 March and 1 April.

Steve Montgomery, chair of the Rail Delivery Group, speaking for the industry, said the strikes would inconvenience customers and “cost our people even more money at a time they can least afford it”.

Passengers already holding tickets for today or Saturday can use them until next Tuesday, or obtain a refund if a booked train is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.

Train operators have offered a pay rise worth 9% over two years, with a guarantee against compulsory redundancies until the end of next year – similar to the offer from Network Rail which has been put to a full vote of RMT members.

The 14 train companies where staff are striking are: Avanti West Coast; C2C; Chiltern; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; GTR (Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern); Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; LNER; West Midlands, including London Northwestern Railway; Northern; South Western Railway; Southeastern; and TransPennine Express.