Contingency plans drawn up as train strikes threaten to ‘disrupt’ the Commonwealth Games

Another RMT strike is due to take place the day before the start of the Commonwealth Games

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Contingency plans including extra buses are coaches are being drawn up as train strikes threaten to ‘disrupt’ the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Rail workers are to stage a fresh strike in the bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at train companies and Network Rail will walk out for 24 hours on July 27 - one day before Birmingham 2022 gets underway.

A spokesperson for Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has said they are confident spectators will get to the Games, even if rail strikes do occur later this month. At Tuesday evening’s Birmingham City Council meeting, cabinet member for transport Liz Clements also attempted to allay concerns. She said detailed traffic management plans were in place and it was an opportunity to encourage people to get out of cars.

West Midlands Trains bosses say the bonus promise was a testWest Midlands Trains bosses say the bonus promise was a test
West Midlands Trains bosses say the bonus promise was a test

More than a million visitors are expected to come to the city for the event. Asked if there were enough drivers for replacement buses for spectators, the TfWM spokesperson said: “We are working with our transport suppliers and remain confident that all are able to supply the necessary workforce that we require.”

They also said: “We are urging visitors to use public transport to travel to Birmingham and the West Midlands and are ensuring there is sufficient capacity for them to do so. This includes, as a contingency for possible disruption of rail services due to industrial action, extra coach and bus services.

“We have confirmed 50 extra coaches running services into Birmingham and the West Midlands from towns, cities and airports across the UK including London, Manchester, Heathrow, Leeds, Bristol and Cardiff. These are available to book now.

“TfWM has also arranged for more than 150 extra shuttle buses, plus accessible buses, to operate between both the park and ride sites and major transport hubs and the Commonwealth Games venues. These are free for spectators, staff and volunteers and details will be available from the travel and venue pages on the Birmingham 2022 website.”

West Midlands Trains drivers voted to strike over pay which hasn’t risen since 2019 – they have been offered a 2% rise, which is well below inflation at 9.1%. In the year March 2020-2021, WMT made £123.9 million in profit after tax and the company which owns WMT, called Abellio, paid its highest paid director £597,000 in the year ending December 2020.

The average salary of a WMT driver is £57,044 a year. If a negotiation is not reached, action could begin on July 25 – three days before the start of the Commonwealth Games.

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