Rail strikes: Train services disrupted as fresh RMT strikes get under way with 'skeleton service' in Scotland
Severe disruption is expected on Scotland’s railways on Wednesday and Thursday due to fresh strikes by thousands of workers in the bitter row over jobs, pay and conditions.
A limited number of trains will run on key routes between Glasgow and Edinburgh; Edinburgh and Bathgate; Glasgow and Hamilton/Larkhall; and Glasgow and Lanark on Wednesday.
Picket lines will be mounted outside railway stations across Scotland including Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley and depots by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail.
A protest will take place outside Network Rail’s head office in Glasgow.
ScotRail has urged passengers to check their journeys before travelling and only do so if necessary saying “We'll only be able to run a skeleton service on five routes in Scotland today (Wed 27 July) due to strike action by RMT members of Network Rail. These limited services start at 07:30 and will end at 18:30.”
Trains are expected to be disrupted on Thursday morning with a later start to services as employees return to duties.
Scottish Government transport minister, Jenny Gilruth, told BBC Scotland’s The Nine on Tuesday evening that her UK counterpart, Grant Shapps should “intervene” in the dispute.
She said: “It’s hugely important the UK government acts to resolve these rail strikes and I know this will be causing passengers real challenges.
“Over the course of the last couple of months, I know that passengers in Scotland have already experienced some concerns in regard to service delivery.
“I think it is for the UK government to intervene. Grant Shapps has an absolute responsibility here.”
The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has also announced a strike by its members at Avanti West Coast on Wednesday, which will affect services between Glasgow and London, while members of the drivers’ union Aslef at eight companies will strike on Saturday.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said union members were more determined than ever to secure a decent pay rise, job security and good working conditions.
He said: “Network Rail have not made any improvement on their previous pay offer and the train companies have not offered us anything new.
“In fact Network Rail have upped the ante, threatening to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts to maintenance work if we did not withdraw our planned strike action.
“The train operating companies have put driver-only operations on the table along with ransacking our members’ terms and conditions.
“RMT will continue to negotiate in good faith but we will not be bullied or cajoled by anyone.
“The Government need to stop their interference in this dispute so the rail employers can come to a negotiated settlement with us.”
Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, 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 (Wednesday) and the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games (Thursday).
“It is frustrating to yet again ask our passengers to change their plans and only make essential journeys.
“Only around half of Britain’s rail network will be open on Wednesday, with a very limited service running on lines that will only be open from around 7.30am until 6.30pm.
“Passengers who must travel are urged to plan ahead to ensure that they can complete their journeys within this window, with last services from London to Scotland, for example, leaving in the early afternoon.”
Strikes were held in June, and more are planned next month, with little sign of a breakthrough to the deadlocked dispute.
Members of the RMT and TSSA will strike on August 18 and 20, with the coordinated action set to cause travel chaos.