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
Police search for man who threw punch at Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith boxing match
Police are searching for man who threw his own punch at the AO Arena after Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith boxing match.
The man in question is believed to have vaulted over a barrier inside the arena just as the match itself came to an end.
He then punched a man sat behind him in the face, before making off on foot.
He left two women and a man he was with behind.
Police are now appealing to witnesses of the assault on Saturday 21 January 2023 to come forward with any information.
CCTV images of the suspect have been released by GMP.
They said in a statement: “Police are appealing for witnesses to an assault at the AO Arena on Saturday 21 January 2023 after the Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith boxing match.
“It is reported that then man (pictured) vaulted over a barrier inside the arena just as the boxing match finished, and struck a man sat behind him in the face.
“The offender then made off on foot, leaving two women and a man he was with, behind.
“Officers believe that the suspect is possibly from the Merseyside area. If you know the man or have any information relating to the crime, please contact GMP on 101, quoting reference number INC/0075491/23.
“Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously to the independent charity – Crimestoppers – on 0800 555 111.”
Featured image: GMP
Salford police officer sacked for ‘depraved’ relationship with vulnerable woman
A police officer has been sacked after carrying out an ‘improper relationship’ with a crime victim.
Paul Banks, who worked as a PC in Salford, has been dismissed and barred after a Gross Misconduct Hearing on 24 and 25 January 2023.
In the hearing, a panel heard how Banks had advised a vulnerable woman to create an email account – which he then accessed to view images and videos, some of which were explicit, that she had uploaded.
He viewed the content more than 200 times and never reported them to his manager or the force’s Professional Standards Branch.
In the end, his own colleagues sensed that something was amiss and raised the alarm.
GMP has now slammed Banks’s ‘depraved behaviour’ and stressed that ‘there will never be a place in GMP for anybody who behaves like him’.
A statement also said that he ‘abused his position of trust’.
Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Allen, head of GMP’s Professional Standards Branch, said: “Banks knew full well that his conduct was egregiously wrong.
“By cultivating an improper relationship with a vulnerable member of the public who he met in the course of his policing duties, the officer has been deservedly sacked from GMP.
“Not only has he disgraced himself, but his depraved behaviour dishonours policing and undermines the principled endeavours of his colleagues, who everyday do a valiant job catching criminals and protecting our communities.
“Indeed, it was Banks’ own colleagues who sensed something was amiss and triggered the first step in a process that rooted him out.
“The prudence of his colleagues is to be commended and I am grateful to the IOPC for conducting an investigation that left no stone unturned.
“No decent member of the police service wants to work with the likes of Banks and there will never be a place in GMP for anybody who behaves like him.
“He abused his position of trust and for that the Office of Constable has been rightly stripped from him.
“GMP is a better force without Banks and we will recruit a new officer into his post who will discharge their duties with honour and espouse the professional and compassionate values of the GMP workforce.”
Banks, who had been on restricted since the investigation began in December 2020, was dismissed without notice.