'Significant disruption' as commuters face fresh rail strikes and floods hit part of West Coast Main Line

The first week of 2023 will bring more disruption for rail passengers, with strikes and flood damage likely to affect travel.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 14 train operators will take part in two 48-hour strikes - affecting journeys on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Members of Aslef, the union representing train drivers, will also strike on Thursday.

There is further disruption for passengers travelling between Carlisle and Glasgow, with the West Coast Main Line out of action until 6 January due to damage from flooding late last month.

An embankment under the railway needs "extensive work to stabilise and repair the foundations of the tracks to allow the railway to safely reopen", Network Rail has said.

Engineers are working to remove landslip material on a 40m-long section of the line and reinforcing it with more than 200 tonnes of new stone.

The strikes by the RMT union and Aslef will see tens of thousands of rail employees stop work, and passengers have been warned of "significant disruption" to services.

On RMT strike days, around half of the network will be closed, with about 20% of services running.

Those that are running will start later and finish earlier than usual, with passengers told they should not travel unless absolutely necessary.

Read more:
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Problems are likely to extend into Sunday 8 January as striking workers return to duty.

The strike by Aslef will affect 15 operators and will also see a "very significantly reduced" timetable.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: "We keep coming to the table but the table is bare.

"Six months after we asked for a pay rise for train drivers who have, now, not had one for nearly four years, we have still not had an offer from the train companies which employ us.

"The ball is in their court. The companies, or this Tory government which stands behind them, could end this dispute now by making a serious and sensible pay offer. It is up to them."

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT said the government had blocked a deal to end the dispute, adding that he is willing to negotiate but first needs an offer on pay, jobs and conditions that members can vote on.

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A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "The government has demonstrated it is being reasonable and stands ready to facilitate a resolution to rail disputes. It's time the unions came to the table and played their part as well.

"Inflation-matching pay increases for all public sector workers would cost everyone more in the long-term - worsening debt, fuelling inflation, and costing every household an extra £1,000.

"Unions should step back from this strike action so we can start 2023 by ending this damaging dispute."

The rail dispute is one of many threatening to deliver a winter of discontent as unions seek pay rises in line with the rate of inflation to help shield their members from the cost of living crisis.

Nurses, ambulance workers, Border Force, Royal Mail employees, and highways workers are also among those who have been striking in recent months.