Rail strike called off after new offer to unions

Signal lights all turned to red and lines standing empty as train companies have started cancelling services over the Bank Holiday
Signal lights all turned to red and lines standing empty as train companies have started cancelling services over the Bank Holiday

A planned rail strike over the Bank Holiday which would have crippled services and led to widespread travel chaos has been called off after Network Rail tabled a new pay offer.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) were due to walk out for 24 hours from 5pm on Monday after rejecting a proposed four-year pay deal.

The unions announced this afternoon (Thursday) that the action was being suspended following the new offer, made during four days of talks at the conciliation service Acas.

Rail companies had already started cancelling services next week and warned passengers not to travel.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Following the Acas talks, RMT has received a revised offer that enables us to suspend the planned industrial action while we consult in full with our Network Rail representatives.”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, said: “Our negotiating team at Acas has received a revised offer from Network Rail.

“As a result of this, they have suspended the planned industrial action, pending the outcome of a meeting of our workplace representatives next week.”

Lawyers for Network Rail halted plans to take legal action against the TSSA in the light of developments.

Bruce Carr QC, for Network Rail, told a judge at a High Court hearing in London that Network Rail was not proceeding with an application for an injunction.

He told Mr Justice Jay: “There has been progress.”

The breakthrough came as workers, businesses and rail passengers were urged to prepare for the expected travel chaos if the strike by thousands goes ahead.

Rail firms have already cancelled services on Monday and Tuesday and advised passengers not to travel unless the industrial action is called off.

Prior to the development, Northern Rail, which runs all nearly commuter services in Yorkshire, said if the strike went ahead it was “likely that nearly all of our lines will be closed” between 7.30am and 6.30pm on Tuesday, and the only Yorkshire trains running would be between Sheffield and Doncaster, and Sheffield and Chesterfield.

Following the strike’s suspension, Northern Rail said all services would operate as normal on Monday and Tuesday.

However, a large amount of engineering work had been planned for the holiday weekend in any case and this will have an impact on certain routes.

These include

• Virgin West Coast -The original timetabled services have been reinstated for Monday and Tuesday. Further information for passengers who have already requested refunds and made alternative travel arrangements will be released later.

• London Midland - The company will be running its planned services on all routes on both Monday and Tuesday.

• ScotRail - Services will run as normal on Monday and Tuesday.

• Southern - A usual bank holiday service will run on Monday and a normal service on Tuesday.

• CrossCountry - All services will run as booked on Monday and Tuesday;

• South West Trains - The planned service will run on Monday and Tuesday.

• First Great Western - Expects to run its full advertised timetable on Monday and Tuesday.

• Southeastern - The company will run normal services on Monday and Tuesday.

• c2c - All trains will run as normal on Monday and Tuesday;

• Merseyrail - Services will run as planned on Monday and Tuesday, with changes to the timetable on Monday due to the Cunard ships’ event at Liverpool.

• East Coast - A normal timetable will operate on Monday and Tuesday. For the Middlesbrough-Norwich City play-off final at Wembley on Monday two additional services will run - 10.20am Darlington to London King’s Cross and 8.05pm King’s Cross to Darlington (this service will connect with the last train to Middlesbrough).

• Thameslink - The company will run normal services on Monday and on Tuesday.