London Tube and train strike latest LIVE: Grant Shapps says RMT claim he wrecked negotiations is ‘a total lie’

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London Tube and train strike latest LIVE: Grant Shapps says RMT claim he wrecked negotiations is ‘a total lie’
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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said the RMT’s accusation that he “wrecked” strike negotiations is “a total lie” as the union confirmed the second of three national rail strikes will go ahead on Thursday.

Earlier on Wednesday, the union had claimed that Mr Shapps was refusing to allow Network Rail “to withdraw their letter threatening redundancy for 2,900 of our members”.

In response, Mr Shapps said: “This is a total lie from the RMT and its general secretary. I have had absolutely nothing to do with either the issuing of a letter from Network Rail, the employer, to the RMT - or any request to withdraw it.

“I understand that the letter makes no mention of 2,900 redundancies, but I do know it confirmed Network Rail would be introducing desperately needed reforms for the industry after the union chose strike action instead of further talks.

“The RMT continues to deflect from the fact that the only people responsible for the massive public disruption this week is them.”

Train passengers were suffering more disruption from Tuesday’s strike action in a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

Follow the live updates below.

Good morning

07:19 , Elly Blake

Welcome to our rail strikes live blog, where we will be bringing you updates on that latest industrial action throughout the day.

Tuesday saw the largest Tube and rail strike in 30 years.

Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 13 train operators walked out in the biggest outbreak of industrial action on the railways for a generation.

Disruption continues today.

Only 60 per cent of trains running on Wednesday

07:22 , Elly Blake

Train services will continue to be disrupted on Wednesday by this week’s rail strikes as talks resume in a bid to resolve a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

Fewer than one in five trains ran on Tuesday after members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Network Rail (NR) and 13 train operators staged the first of three walkouts, with strikes set to follow on Thursday and Saturday.

RMT members on London Underground also went on strike on Tuesday.

The joint action caused travel chaos across the UK, with journeys taking longer and roads rammed with traffic as people switched to cars or buses to get to work.

The chaos will continue on Wednesday, with only 60 per cent of trains running, mainly due to a delay to the start of services as signallers and control room staff are not doing overnight shifts.

The RMT will meet with NR and the train companies on Wednesday in another attempt to break the deadlock.

TfL: People advised to avoid making Tube journeys until mid-morning

07:26 , Elly Blake

Just before 7.30am on Wednesday, TfL showed that the Bakerloo, Central, Circle, District, Hammersmith and City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Piccadilly and Waterloo and City lines were suspended.

The London Overground is part suspended.

A good service is running on the Northern and Victoria lines, the Elizabeth line, DLR and tram services, according to the TfL website.

TfL had earlier said that no Tube services will run before 8am.

People are being advised to avoid making Tube journeys until mid-morning, with disruption likely to continue across the network.

Poll suggests 58 per cent of people think industrial action ‘justified'

07:34 , Elly Blake

A poll suggests 58 per cent of people agree with the industrial action, calling it “justified”.

Younger adults aged 18-34 (72 per cent) and Labour voters (79 per cent) were more likely to see the strikes as justified compared to their older, aged 55 and over, (44 per cent) and Conservative-voting (38 per cent) counterparts.

Three out of five said they are generally supportive of the principle of industrial action, while just 35 per cent were generally opposed.

The survey of over 2,300 people was by Savanta ComRes.

What about Thursday?

07:40 , Elly Blake

National industrial action is due to take place on Thursday, with around 20 per cent of services due to run.

Just half of railway lines will be open, and only between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Negotiations are taking place but passengers are still urged to check with train operators for updates to services.

On Thursday, there will be reduced service on the London Overground and Elizabeth line as well as parts of the Tube, according to TfL.

London Overground services will run a reduced service from 7.30am, with commuters advised to complete their journeys by 6pm.

The third strike of the week is planned for Saturday.

Around 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators are involved in the industrial action.

‘Today is going to be quite a messy day’ for travel

07:51 , Elly Blake

Disruption caused by Tuesday’s rail strikes will mean that “today is going to be quite a messy day”, for travellers, the independent watchdog for transport users has said.

Anthony Smith, the chief executive of Transport Focus, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Today is going to be quite a messy day still.

“Virtually all of the train companies have special timetables in place, services are starting up late and trains and staff are not in the right place.

“So please do not assume that this is a normal day.

“If you are going to travel by train check before you leave the house, check on the way to the station and, for goodness sake, bring a bottle of water with you.”

Rising inflation shows need for pay restraint, says Raab

07:52 , Elly Blake

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the rising inflation figures showed the need for pay restraint in the public sector and on the railways.

It comes as UK inflation rose to 9.1 per cent in May, up from 9 per cent in April, according to the ONS.

He told Sky News there was a risk of a “vicious cycle” of rising wages pushing inflation even higher if union demands were met, saying the Government was taking a “firm line”.

“We are facing a global struggle against inflation, if you look at the UK figures they are broadly comparable to the US or, in Europe, the Dutch and the Belgians, and it’s going to be difficult.

“We really do understand the pressure that those on low incomes are facing at the moment, they are struggling to make ends meet.”

Setting out why public sector pay could not keep pace with inflation, he added: “If we don’t have those restraints, inflation will go higher for longer. And that will only undermine the pay packages of workers, particularly the most vulnerable workers, for a longer period of time.

“We’re taking the action, we’re taking a firm line with, for example, the RMT union, precisely because we want to protect this erosion of pay packets by inflation.”

What is happening on the London Underground on Thursday?

08:22 , Elly Blake

On Thursday, there will be reduced service on the London Overground and Elizabeth line as well as parts of the Tube, according to TfL.

London Overground services will run a reduced service from 7.30am, with commuters advised to complete their journeys by 6pm.

Disruption is excepted on the Bakerloo line between Queens Park to Harrow and Wealdstone and the District line on the Richmond and Wimbledon branches, where sevices will only operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Pictured: Travel disruption on Wednesday

08:27 , Elly Blake

Stratford station (PA)
Stratford station (PA)
King’s Cross St Pancras underground station (PA)
King’s Cross St Pancras underground station (PA)
Richmond station (ES)
Richmond station (ES)

Government needs to ‘hold the line’ against RMT demands, says Raab

08:28 , Elly Blake

Dominic Raab said the Government had to “hold the line” against the RMT’s demands for improved pay and conditions on the railways.

The Justice Secretary said the strikes were “deeply regrettable” and reform was necessary on the railways.

“We’ve, of course, got to reform the way the railways operate, given the new ways to working on the effect that has on commuter travel,” he told LBC Radio. “But there are also old practices, which frankly, are well out of date and unnecessary, which need to be reformed.”

He added: “I think Network Rail are taking the right approach. We know that the cost of living challenge is there, we know that it affects workers across the board.

“But the one thing that will keep inflation higher for longer and undermine pay packets for longer is if we have spiralling public sector pay increases beyond what is responsible. And that’s what’s at issue here.

“It is precisely to protect the wages of those on the lowest incomes that we need to hold the line.”

Glastonbury festival opens despite travel chaos for many revellers

08:52 , Elly Blake

Glastonbury festival organiser Emily Eavis marked the opening of the gates with a post on Instagram, writing alongside a picture: “Gates are OPEN… Welcome everyone to Glastonbury 2022!”.

At 8am hundreds of Glastonbury attendees had been queueing for hours with their bags and some said they arrived at the site in the early hours of the morning.

It comes as more than half of the trains from London to Glastonbury Festival were cancelled due to strike action.

Pictured: Strikes on Wednesday

09:47 , Elly Blake

King’s Cross (PA)
King’s Cross (PA)
Stratford (PA)
Stratford (PA)
Central line at Stratford (Getty Images)
Central line at Stratford (Getty Images)

‘Boris bikes’ see record day as Londoners turn to two-wheels during strike

10:29 , Elly Blake

The “Boris bike” hire scheme recorded its second highest number of rides as Londoners took to two wheels during the Tube strike, it was revealed on Wednesday.

There were more than 67,000 hires of the Santander-sponsored bikes on Tuesday - more than double the daily average of 27,00 a day.

Cyclists reported packed cycleways - with more than 8,700 journeys on the Embankment cycle superhighway by 1pm - and many novice riders on the road.

Transport for London said it was also the busiest day for e-scooter hires, with more than 10,000 journeys made on the three models currently being trialled in London.

Read the full article here.

‘They had to turn people away’ - festival-goers on their journey to Glastonbury

11:07 , Elly Blake

Festival-goers Jenna Conway, 30, and 26-year-old Sarah Tann from London arrived at Paddington station at 7.30am looking to beat travel disruption caused by rail strikes but were left queueing for hours on their journey to Glastonbury.

Ms Conway, who has been to Glastonbury five times, told the PA news agency: “We got here three hours ahead of our train, we were stupid we just thought we could jump on any train, we thought they would be kind because there of the strikes but they didn’t let us on so now we wait.

“The bus we take that gets us to Paddington station first stop is at our house, every stop after that was absolutely rammed.

“There were people arguing, bustling on, they had to turn loads of people away.”

She added she had been to Glastonbury several times with her father who was involved in an art collective with a group of disabled children.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has branded the railway workers’ strikes as ‘unjustified'

11:28 , Barney Davis

Speaking at a visit to St George’s Hospital on Wednesday, Mr Javid said: “Well, I think, and I hope actually that the rail workers are quite unique in how they’ve responded to higher inflation because I think their strike is just completely unjustified.

“It is right that we look to modernise our rail services, it is right we take into account perhaps the longer term impacts of the pandemic with the changing patterns of the way people work.

“We need to recognise this and make a changes and think this strike is unjustified and it’s hurting a lot of people, particularly people trying to get to hospital for their appointments and also you have NHS staff trying to get to the hospitals to help them.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the turnout at picket lines on Tuesday was “fantastic” and had exceeded expectations in the union’s campaign for job security, defending conditions and a decent pay rise.

Starmer and Johnson clash over rail strikes in PMQs

12:25 , Barney Davis

The Prime Minister said that Sir Keir “hasn’t even got the gumption to speak out against the rail strikes” in an opening riposte.

Keir Starmer later asked: “If he’s genuine about preventing strikes will the Prime Minister tell the House how many meetings he and his Transport Secretary have had to try and stop them?”

Boris Johnson deflects, replying: “This is the government which loves the railways…but what we’ve got to do is modernise them.”

The Labour leader asks the PM to “stop blaming everybody else” for them. “Why doesn’t he do his job, get round the table and get the trains running?”

Faulty trains on Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines add to travel misery

13:25 , Barney Davis

Delays were reported on three TfL Underground lines fuelling more travel woes for Londoners.

Faulty trains caused added chaos on the Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines at the tail end of RMT strike action.

No service was reported between Whitechapel and Upminster on the District Line and no services were running anti clockwise on the Circle Line at 1.30pm

Just 60% of trains are running today, and some operators will wind down services slightly earlier than normal tonight ahead of the next walkout on Thursday.

Central Line shuts down to add to travel woes

13:55 , Barney Davis

The Central Line has stopped services between Leytonstone and White City while engineers fix a signal failure at Liverpool Street.

TfL reported severe delays on the rest of the line and urged travellers to use London Buses as an alternative.

It comes as faulty trains caused a severe delays on the Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines on Wednesday afternoon at the tail end of RMT strike action.

RMT strike action to go ahead on Thursday after talks breakdown

15:24 , Barney Davis

Commenting on today’s talks, Mick Lynch RMT general secretary said: “Grant Shapps has wrecked these negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw their letter threatening redundancy for 2,900 of our members.

“Until the government unshackle Network Rail and the train operating companies, it is not going to be possible for a negotiated settlement to be agreed.

“We will continue with our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated settlement that delivers job security and a pay rise for our members that deals with the escalating cost of living crisis.”

Home working is “a problem” for the effectiveness of the rail strikes, according to an academic expert

15:27 , Barney Davis

Gemma Dale, a lecturer in the Business School at Liverpool John Moores University, told the PA news agency the ability of office workers to do their jobs from home means there is less pressure on the Government to resolve the dispute.

Ms Dale noted that the strike is “still causing some disruption for that 50% of the population who can’t work in an office”.

She said: “I wouldn’t go so far as to say (home working) is going to fundamentally undermine strike action because it is still of course a huge issue to not have an effective rail service running across most of the country.

“However, it isn’t going to be causing big business to be putting pressure on the Government in the way that it might have done pre-pandemic.

“I think (home working) isn’t fundamentally damaging (to strikes) but it is something of a problem.”

Shapps accuses Lynch of ‘wasting time making false claims’

17:40 , Daniel Keane

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has accused Mick Lynch of "wasting time making false claims in the media" after the union boss accused him of wrecking negotiations.

He said in a statement: "This is a total lie from the RMT and its general secretary. I have had absolutely nothing to do with either the issuing of a letter from Network Rail, the employer, to the RMT - or any request to withdraw it.

"I understand that the letter makes no mention of 2,900 redundancies, but I do know it confirmed Network Rail would be introducing desperately needed reforms for the industry after the union chose strike action instead of further talks.

"The RMT continues to deflect from the fact that the only people responsible for the massive public disruption this week is them.

"I want to urge Mick Lynch and his members to stop wasting time making false claims in the media and instead return to the negotiating table so an agreement can be reached."

Aslef to join strikes tomorrow

18:17 , Daniel Keane

Members of the drivers’ union Aslef on Greater Anglia will strike on Thursday in a separate dispute over pay.

The company, which is also affected by the RMT dispute, advised passengers only to travel if it was necessary.

Starmer ‘to wait until after strikes to discipline MPs’

18:42 , Daniel Keane

Sir Keir Starmer is understood to be waiting until the end of the industrial action before instructing chief whip Alan Campbell to deal with any disciplinary issues relating to the strike, after a number of his MPs were pictured at picket lines.

Following PMQs, a Labour spokesman said Mr Campbell would make a decision in the “next few days”.

He would not be drawn on what form any action might take, but said “the chief whip is aware of Keir’s wishes”.

“I think the right way is for the process to go ahead as it should, and that is for the chief whip to speak to the individuals concerned,” he added.

NHS workers deserve pay rise, says Javid

20:36 , Daniel Keane

Sajid Javid has said NHS workers deserve "fair" pay in the face of soaring prices.

The Health Secretary told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "Of course, part of showing the value we attach to whether it's nurses or other health workers is, of course it is pay and so along with the thanks we've got to make sure that we are fair in pay.

"And that is why for example last year, whilst there was a freeze on all public sector pay, there was no freeze on NHS pay; it went up by 3% despite the challenges at the time.

"Now this year's pay rise, I can't tell you right now what it's going to be but what I can tell you is that we will listen carefully to the independent pay review body, which by the way, rightly also, as well as inflation, takes into account retention and many other sensible factors.

"And it will report back to me as Secretary of State, we will take that into account and we will respond."

Thanks for following

21:56 , Daniel Keane

That’s all from us today, but we’ll be back from tomorrow morning with the latest on the rail strikes.

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