Christmas rail chaos looms as pay talks falter and union warns another round of strikes is near

Christmas rail chaos looms as pay talks falter and union warns another round of strikes is ‘highly likely’

  • The economy is estimated to have taken a £600m hit because of the RMT strikes
  • General secretary Mick Lynch last night said talks with Network Rail had stalled
  • Strikes are expected to fall over the Christmas and New Year holiday period

Union chiefs threatened a Christmas of chaos on the railways last night as talks over pay and job security faltered.

The RMT warned that another round of industrial action was ‘highly likely’ and accused rail bosses of failing to table an improved offer. The union called off three 24-hour walkouts at the eleventh hour earlier this month as hopes of a breakthrough grew and both sides entered ‘intensive talks’.

But general secretary Mick Lynch last night said talks with Network Rail had stalled. He said the bosses of 14 train firms involved in the dispute had also failed to make a formal offer in writing despite nearly six months of talks.

The RMT secured a fresh six-month mandate for strikes last week, meaning walkouts could continue into next summer.

General Secretary of the RMT, Mick Lynch addresses the audience during a rally. Union chiefs threatened chaos on the railways over Christmas as talks over pay and job security faltered

General Secretary of the RMT, Mick Lynch addresses the audience during a rally. Union chiefs threatened chaos on the railways over Christmas as talks over pay and job security faltered

It is expected to target the Christmas and New Year holiday period to inflict maximum damage at one of the most lucrative times of year for businesses and when families travel to see loved ones.

Mr Lynch, pictured, said last night: ‘We have been patient and have shown good faith which has not been returned.’

The economy is estimated to have taken a £600million hit so far because of the RMT strikes. The TSSA rail union last night said it would continue talks.

Passengers were already facing severe disruption due to line closures for £120million of engineering works over the festive period. Network Rail will carry out 300 engineering projects, meaning all services from London Liverpool Street have been cancelled.

There will also be no Southern services from London Victoria.

Liverpool Street will be closed from Christmas Day until January 2 as the work, including bridge reconstruction and track maintenance, is carried out.

Labour MP Bell Ribeiro Addy visits the picket line at Elephant & Castle station on November 10. The economy is estimated to have taken a £600million hit so far because of the RMT strikes

Labour MP Bell Ribeiro Addy visits the picket line at Elephant & Castle station on November 10. The economy is estimated to have taken a £600million hit so far because of the RMT strikes

Greater Anglia, Stansted Express and c2c services will be hit by the shutdown. Southern and Gatwick Express services to or from Victoria will also be suspended over the same period. Many services will be redirected to London Bridge.

Avanti West Coast services between London Euston and Glasgow, which stop at Manchester and Birmingham, will run on a reduced timetable from Christmas Eve to December 30.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, said: ‘Any strikes will only cause further misery for customers and struggling businesses.’

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