Some rail passengers ‘unaware of strikes’ at Birmingham New Street

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Limited services were running up and down the country on Wednesday, 27 July

More passengers were attempting to travel despite Wednesday’s (July 27) rail strike than during last month’s industrial action.

Network Rail said around 15% more people were using its stations than on Thursday June 23, which was the second day members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union had gone on strike in the bitter dispute over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions. But the total remained around two-thirds down on a normal Wednesday.

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Passengers were urged to only travel by train if they had to. Only around 22% of services were running, with just half of the network open, and services were stopping at 6.30pm, meaning the last trains to many destinations were departing mid-afternoon.

Passengers at Birmingham New Street Station, as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) take part in a fresh strike over jobs, pay and conditions. Passengers at Birmingham New Street Station, as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) take part in a fresh strike over jobs, pay and conditions.
Passengers at Birmingham New Street Station, as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) take part in a fresh strike over jobs, pay and conditions. | PA

Trains will also be disrupted on Thursday morning with a later start as employees return to duties. Around 80% of normal services will run across the day as a whole. Picket lines were mounted outside railway stations as thousands of members of the RMT at Network Rail and 14 train operators went on strike.

More strikes will take place in the coming days, and a wave of industrial action is planned for next month on the railways and London Underground. Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) at Avanti West Coast also walked out on Wednesday, while members of the drivers’ union Aslef at seven companies will strike on Saturday.

Many passengers turning up at stations, including Birmingham New Street on Wednesday were unaware of the strike.

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Fabian Ward sat on the Birmingham New Street concourse, planning how to get home to Telford, 34 miles away. He said: “I didn’t know about the strikes to be fair, otherwise I would have driven.”

Birmingham New street  Birmingham New street
Birmingham New street | PA

Will there be more strikes?

Members of the RMT and TSSA will launch co-ordinated strikes on August 18 and 20, while the RMT announced a strike on London Underground on August 19.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said he does not know when the strikes will end. Mr Lynch, who spoke to the PA news agency on the picket line at Euston, said: “I don’t know how long they’ll go on. When we get a negotiated settlement that our members support then the strikes will cease.

“But at the moment we’ve got a big gap to bridge, and we’re not near that at the moment so the strikes will go on.”

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Asked whether there is any other alternative, he replied: “I could do trial by combat… but I can’t think of (another) way at the moment because we’ve been negotiating for two years. But it would be interesting if me and (Transport Secretary) Grant Shapps went head to head, if that’s not too flippant.”

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Despite our best efforts to find a breakthrough, I’m afraid there will be more disruption for passengers this week as the RMT seems hell-bent on continuing their political campaigning, rather than compromising and agreeing a deal for their members.

“I can only apologise for the impact this pointless strike will have on passengers, especially those travelling for holidays or attending events such as the Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 semi-final (on Wednesday) and the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games (on Thursday).”

Which rail companies are affected by the strike action on Wednesday?

Fourteen train companies are set to be impacted by the rail strike, which is one more than the number affected by the strikes of June 2022.

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The full list of train companies set to be impacted by the strike is listed below:

  • 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
  • GTR (including Gatwick Express)

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