Rail strikes: Britain’s passengers ‘will receive refunds for tickets bought’

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Rail passengers whose journeys are affected by strikes planned for late June will receive refunds for the tickets they have bought, the head of the industry body that represents train companies has said.

“If we cannot provide a service to our customers due to strike action then we will refund customers,” said Steve Montgomery, the chair of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

“We need to go and draw up a set of guidance for people and how it is going to work but we will be very flexible,” Montgomery, who is also managing director of First Rail, added on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Rail workers belonging to the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will stage walkouts on 21, 23 and 25 June, which is expected to shut down much of the national rail system for a week.

The RDG is looking at putting out advice to customers who intend to travel during the strike week, such as recommending they travel on the day before or after the walkout, according to Montgomery. He also called on the RMT to hold talks to “resolve” the issue.

The Tory MP Huw Merriman, the chair of parliament’s transport select committee, called on the government to put legislation in place that would have required a minimum rail service even during strikes.

“It was proposed in the Conservative party’s manifesto in 2019 that there would be a minimum service obligation so that trains would have to run, as they do in France, Italy, Spain, during strikes, where a third to a fifth of trains operate,” Merriman told Today.

“That legislation has not been put in place, so without that it will be difficult to negotiate with the unions if the trains grind to halt.”

The planned industrial action – after a successful ballot of 40,000 members across Network Rail and 13 train operating companies last month – is due to start on Tuesday 21 June and run on alternating days until the Saturday, covering some of the busiest days of the week for rail since pandemic rules eased.

It will also take place during a week of large cultural events, including the Glastonbury festival, the UK athletics championships in Manchester, and a concert in London’s Hyde Park by the Rolling Stones, as well as two parliamentary byelections.

Compulsory redundancies among rail workers have not yet been threatened by either Network Rail or train operators but as passenger numbers remain stubbornly below pre-Covid levels, companies are looking to make up to £2bn in annual savings.

The RMT said rail companies had not given any guarantees against redundancies, while many of its members had had their wages frozen during the pandemic and had not yet been offered a pay rise.

Rail companies and the RMT have said they want to negotiate to try to avoid the strikes going ahead.

Source: The Guardian

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