Train passengers are once again being told expect disruption and to only travel “if necessary” as rail strikes begin across the UK today.
Network Rail is warning all those intending on travelling by train that services will be “severely disrupted” on Thursday and Saturday, with half of Britain’s rail lines to close and more than 45,000 workers to walk out.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail (NR), workers from 14 train operators nationwide, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) union members at seven companies, and Unite members at NR are all striking over an ongoing dispute around pay, jobs, and conditions.
This is then also then expected to have a knock-on effect on Friday and Sunday morning, with many services beginning to run later than usual.
Where services are are operating on strike days, trains will only run between 07:30 and 18:30 on both strike days, but some routes will have no services at all.
A total of 4,300 services are expected to run across the country on Thursday and Saturday, according to Network Rail, which is tthe highest number yet during the series of national RMT union strikes – however, it is still only just over 20% of usual service levels.
Rail workers taking action over these next two strike days include staff working in ticket offices, stations, control rooms and engineering, as well as planning, timetabling and other support roles.
The TSSA says its members are seeking guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies, a pay rise in line with the cost of living, and no unilateral alterations to job terms and conditions – but Network Rail’s chief executive Andrew Haines described negotiations with unions as “slow” and “painful”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that there was “an absolute lack of clarity over what it would take for this strike to be called off”.
Mick Lynch – General Secretary at the RMT – said that his union’s members are this time more determined than ever to protect their pensions and secure a decent pay rise, job security, and good working conditions, adding: “Network Rail have not made any improvement on their previous pay offer and the train operating companies have not offered us anything new.
“Tube bosses are having secret negotiations with the government about cutting costs by slashing jobs and undermining working conditions and pensions [and] Network Rail is also threatening to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts to maintenance work if we did not withdraw strike action.
“The train operating companies have put driver-only operations on the table, along with ransacking our members’ terms and conditions.”
Addressing the latest rail strike action, transport secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement: “It’s clear, from their coordinated approach, that the unions are hell-bent on causing as much misery as possible to the very same taxpayers who stumped up £600 per household to ensure not a single rail worker lost their job during the pandemic.
“Sadly, union chiefs have short memories and will be repaying this act of good faith by ruining millions of hard-working people’s summer plans.”
Although it has been confirmed that thousands of specially-trained back-up staff will step in, Network Rail is asking passengers to only travel by train “if they must”.
They should also allow extra time for journeys, and check when their last train will depart.
If customers are not able to travel on Thursday or Saturday, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said they can use these tickets either the day before or up to and including 23 August, or alternatively, they will be able to change the ticket or claim a refund.
Featured Image – Network Rail
Tameside police officers hailed ‘absolute heroes’ after saving the life of a seven-year-old girl
Two Tameside police officers have been hailed as “absolute heroes” after saving the life of a seven-year-old little girl.
It comes after emergency services were called to an address in the Greater Manchester borough of Tameside earlier this week (29 November), and found a young girl who was struggling to breath and coughing up blood after choking on a sweet.
Police Constables Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell, from Greater Manchester Police‘s (GMP) Tameside division, were first on the scene.
To the huge relief of the girl’s parents, who were said to be “understandably distressed” and concerned for her welfare, PC Kincaid jumped straight into action and was able to utilise his first aid training to full effect by going on to successfully dislodge the sweet from the youngster’s throat, and then helping to calm her down before the paramedics arrived.
Whilst PC Kincaid looked after the little girl, PC Blundell did “everything he could” to help the parents remain calm.
Paramedics then took over once they arrived, and the young girl was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Reflecting on the incident, and hailing his officers “absolute heroes”, Superintendent Mike Walsh, from GMP’s Tameside district, said: “PCs Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell acted without hesitation during the incident, and took control of the situation that they were faced with.
“They deserve every credit for staying calm under extreme pressure and for working together as a team and utilising their training to lifesaving effect, and I’m sure the girl’s parents and family will consider them to be absolute heroes.”
“We’re both glad that we were in the right place at the right time,” PC Kincaid added.
“I have a daughter the same age as the little girl who needed our help, and I cannot tell you how much of a relief it was when she started breathing normally and said she was okay after I had managed to dislodge the sweet.