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Commuters face rail disruption for another day following strikes

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Commuters were facing a further day of rail disruption on Friday following strike action.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at 14 train operating companies walked out on Thursday in a long-running row over pay, jobs and conditions.

Trains started later than normal and finished early, at around 6.30pm, affecting operators including CrossCountry, Great Western Railway, Northern and Southeastern.

Disruption continued into Friday, as many trains were not at the usual depots overnight, leading to delays as timetables resumed.

Services at companies involved in Thursday’s walkout were not expected to start until after 7am on Friday.

Greater Anglia said on Twitter that some of its services were cancelled, with no trains expected to run between Bethnal Green and Cambridge until 10am.

Commuters shared their frustration on social media as they struggled to reach their destinations.

Twitter user Nicky Owen shared a photo of a queue of people waiting to access her local train station.

“I thought the #trainstrike was on Thursday! I just wanna go to work,” she wrote.

Across the UK on Thursday, up to half of normal weekday services were expected to run, but some areas had no trains all day.

Further strike action is planned for Saturday as well as March 30 and April 1.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the dispute is “stuck in a deadlock” because the latest offer is “underfunded”.

He said: “The Government backs up the train operating companies and gives them their mandate.

“They’ve offered a pay proposal that’s 5 per cent for last year and 4 per cent for the coming year, which is way below the rate of inflation.

“But they’ve said all of those pay increases such as they are - which amount to pay cuts - have got to be funded by changes to our members’ working conditions.”

Mr Lynch called it a “self-funded pay rise” which has put the union “in a deadlock” without “a way forward”.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, claimed the RMT has “blocked the chance to resolve this dispute” by not putting the latest offer to a vote of its members.

Steve Montgomery, who chairs the RDG, said the fresh round of strikes is a further inconvenience for commuters who have already had “months of disruption”.

“They will also be asking why the RMT leadership blocked the chance to resolve this dispute by refusing to give their members – many of whom would have benefited from a 13 per cent increase – a say on their own deal,” he said.

A Department for Transport spokesperson urged the RMT to “put the Rail Delivery Group’s very fair offer to a democratic vote of their members”.

Mr Montgomery said: “Unfortunately, while we will pull out all the stops to keep as many trains running as possible, there will be reduced services across many parts of the rail network on all four strike days, so our advice is to check before you travel.”

The rail strikes follow a week of industrial action.

Up to half a million teachers, lecturers, junior doctors, civil servants, London Underground drivers, BBC journalists and Amazon employees stopped work on Wednesday in one of the single biggest days of industrial action in a decade.