Rail strikes to cause disruption as RMT members walk out over pay and conditions

Train passengers have been warned of a much-reduced service today as workers walk out in the latest round of strikes.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at 14 train operators are taking industrial action in their long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

The strike will impact 18 different rail companies because some of the operators involved in the dispute run multiple train firms.

It is expected that nationally between 40% and 50% of train services will run on Saturday.

However, rail bosses warn there will be wide variations across the network - with the possibility of no services at all in some areas.

Services could also be disrupted on Sunday morning as a knock-on effect from Saturday's strike action.

Football fans and families travelling to weekend leisure events will be among those affected, with passengers warned to check for schedule updates before they travel.

Steve Montgomery, who chairs the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents the train operators in the dispute, said the latest round of strikes will be "a further inconvenience to our customers, who have already experienced 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% increase - a say on their own deal."

Warning of disruption, he added: "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 strike days, so our advice is to check before you travel."

Saturday's strike action comes after RMT members walked out on Thursday, while more stoppages are planned on 30 March and 1 April.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch told Sky News: "Our members need a deal that they can accept.

"We're realistic about what we can achieve on money, but nobody else seems to have these conditions imposed upon them."

He added: "It's the government, the people in Whitehall that are stopping a deal being done.

"They see the RMT as some kind of target.

"The government is imposing this dispute on the people and on the passengers. The government could solve it tomorrow if they wish to."

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Last week, the RMT announced it had suspended separate strikes, involving Network Rail staff, in order to put a "new and improved" pay offer to its members for a vote.

The offer amounts to an uplift on salaries of between 14.4% for the lowest paid grades to 9.2% for the highest paid, it said.

The referendum of union members will end at midday on 20 March.

It comes as security guards at Heathrow Airport are to strike over Easter while more than 1,000 Passport Office staff across the UK will strike for five weeks starting in April.

While junior doctors and the government are set to enter talks following a 72-hour-strike which saw more than 175,000 appointments reorganised.