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Travel chaos for commuters as UK rail workers strike

January 08, 2018 07:14 PM

Punjab News Express
LONDON: Thousands of commuters across the UK are set to endure up to three days of travel mayhem as staff at five train firms began a fresh wave of strikes in separate disputes over "rail safety".

Rail, Maritime and Transport union members at Northern, Merseyrail, South Western Railway (SWR) and Greater Anglia were striking on Monday, with further walkouts planned for Wednesday and Friday, the BBC reported.

RMT members at Southern Rail were also staging a 24-hour walkout. A Department for Transport spokesman said the five franchises would "keep passengers moving" during the strikes.

The 24-hour walkouts were called over separate disputes, all concerning rail safety, the RMT said. It said the disputes were over issues including the role of train guards and the extension of driver-only services.

SWR is expected to be the worst-hit railway throughout the three days of strikes.

"RMT members remain solid and united in each of the separate disputes across the country over rail safety this morning as we continue to fight to put public safety, security and access before the profits of the train operating companies," said Mick Cash, the union's General Secretary, in a statement.

All of the affected firms said they will be running services during the strikes.

Northern Rail services, which runs trains in northwest and northeast England, said it will run around 1,350 trains on strike days -- about 60 per cent of its normal service.

SWR, which operates out of stations including London Waterloo, Reading, Exeter and Southampton, planned to run about 70 per cent of its normal service.

Merseyrail said it will run a reduced service on its lines in and around Liverpool, with a break during the middle of the day. Southern said it planned to run a normal service on most of its routes across south England.

Greater Anglia planned to run a normal service with no alterations.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash wrote to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling calling for a summit with the Department for Transport and the train companies.

He said agreements had been reached in Scotland and Wales to keep guards on new modern trains.

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