Train strikes latest: RMT’s Mick Lynch warns walkouts could go on for months as commuters hit by 48-hour strike

The head of Britain’s largest rail union warned train strikes could go on for months on Tuesday as a fresh 48-hour walkout caused misery for commuters.

Mick Lynch said the RMT had a mandate to take action up until May, but warned: “If we have to go further, that’s what we’ll need to do.”

However Network Rail’s chief negotiator said that a deal to stop rail strikes is in “touching distance”.

Rail passengers suffered fresh travel disruption with 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 14 train operators staging a 48-hour walkout, with another to follow on Friday, while drivers in the Aslef union will strike on Thursday.

Picket lines were again mounted outside railway stations across the country in a repeat of what became a familiar sight last year.

Passengers, including those returning to work after the festive break, are being warned to expect “significant disruption” as only a limited number of trains will run.

The advice is to only travel if absolutely necessary, allow extra time and check when first and last trains will depart.

On RMT strike days, around half of the network will shut down, with only about 20% of normal services running.

Trains that do run will start later and finish much earlier than usual - with services typically running between 7.30am and 6.30pm on the day of the strike.

The Elizabeth Line is also disrupted with severe delays between Paddington and Reading and Liverpool Street to Shenfield. London Overground services have also been hit along with parts of the Bakerloo and District lines.

Which TfL services are affected by strike?

Tuesday 3 January 2023 06:51 , Josh Salisbury

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of today’s rail strike.

Tens of thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 14 train operators are striking. Commuters returning to work are being warned to expect “significant disruption” because only a limited number of trains will run.

Around half of the rail nework is shut down and only about 20% of normal services are running.

Services which will run will typically do so between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

The London Overground is currently not running because of strike action, while the walkout is also causing part suspensions on the routes of the Bakerloo and District.

The Elizabeth line also has no service between Paddington to Heathrow/Reading and Liverpool Street to Shenfield because of the walkout.

The advice is to only travel if absolutely necessary, allow extra time and check when first and last trains will depart.

To see the latest TfL travel information, visit here.

Which train operating companies are affected by the strike?

Tuesday 3 January 2023 07:05 , Josh Salisbury

The nationwide strike is affecting a number of train operating companies used by commuters to travel in and out of London.

The affected train operating companies are:

- Avanti West Coast- Chiltern Railways- CrossCountry- East Midlands Railway- Gatwick Express- Great Northern- Great Western Railway- Greater Anglia- Heathrow Express- Island Line- LNER- London Northwestern Railway- Northern- South Western Railway- Southeastern- Southern- Stansted Express- Thameslink- TransPennine Express- West Midlands Railway

Rail unions told: Let London get back to work by calling off strikes

Tuesday 3 January 2023 07:26 , Josh Salisbury

Rail unions have been told to let London “get back to work” by calling off strikes crippling the transport network today and this week.

Many people are having to work from home on Tuesday rather than join the “Great Return to Work” after the Christmas break because so few trains are running.

Former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers told the Standard: “These strikes are unjustified deeply irresponsible. They will cause misery to millions, as well as damaging the recovery of rail passenger numbers after Covid.”

The Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet added: “The unions should call off their industrial action right now so that our capital city can get back to work.”

Cities of London and Westminster Tory MP Nickie Aiken stressed: “It’s disappointing that the unions insist on continuing their disruption.”

Read our full story here.

Lynch: ‘We still have support of the public and want to negotiate‘

Tuesday 3 January 2023 07:34 , Josh Salisbury

Mick Lynch, the RMT’s boss, has said the union still has the support of the public as the walkout brings services to a standstill, writes John Dunne.

Mr Lynch who was on the picket line at Euston told the Standard: “We want to negotiate but the government will not. We want a change in the weather as do the public.. The rail companies are still making plenty of dosh. We still have the support of the travelling public."

He added that the union had regularly spoken to rail company chiefs but the government was ignoring their demands.

Deal to stop strikes ‘within touching distance’, says Network Rail

Tuesday 3 January 2023 07:37 , Josh Salisbury

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail's chief negotiator, has said a deal to stop rail strikes is in "touching distance".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Some members are coming back to work, and we are seeing increasing numbers come back to work, but that's not the way to resolve the problem or the dispute.

“The way to resolve that dispute is through an agreement and what we're saying to the RMT is that it's very clear from the referendum that they held, they did it very quickly, it was only open for a few days, that actually that was rushed, and it didn't allow and give time for people to ask genuine questions there are associated with the reform elements of this deal.

“So, what we're saying to the RMT is that we know which areas had been misunderstood by some of our staff, their members, and we want to make sure that we can work with the RMT now to make clarifications where there's been misunderstanding and put the deal out again.

“We only need 2,000 people who voted no last time to change their vote and the deal will pass. So, we think that's within touching distance."

Transport Secretary denies Government intervened to stop deal with strikers

Tuesday 3 January 2023 08:09 , Josh Salisbury

The Transport Secretary has denied a claim that ministers intervened in rail strike negotiations in December to stop a deal.

Asked about the claims, Mark Harper told Sky News: "That absolutely isn't true.

"In fact, since I became Transport Secretary a couple of month ago I met all the union leaders, I tried to change the tone of the discussions and I said that ministers would help facilitate the trade unions and the employers, that is the train operating companies and Network Rail, getting around the table."

He later added: “There is a fair and reasonable pay offer on the table. There is not a bottomless pit of taxpayers' money here.”

Government ‘needs to tell us their proposals’ to stop strike - Lynch

Tuesday 3 January 2023 08:19 , Josh Salisbury

The Government needs to set out its exact proposals to move forward rail strike negotiations, RMT boss Mick Lynch said.

In another interview from the picket line, he told Sky News: “I would go and meet him (Transport Secretary Mark Harper) now if he wants, or he can come here and meet me, and we can hammer some things out.

“What we keep hearing is the same stuff from the Government across the sectors that they want to facilitate an agreement, but they don't actually do anything.

“I met the rail minister on December 15 along with the companies. We have heard nothing tangible since then, we have heard a few warm words and Mark Harper conducts himself in a pleasant way, in a good way, and that is fine.

“What we need to hear now from the Government is exactly what it is they are going to propose to us."

Mr Lynch also suggested ministers were “undermining efforts to get a settlement" and had “torpedoed" an agreement in December - an allegation Mr Harper has denied.

Talks to end strikes to take place next week

Tuesday 3 January 2023 09:08 , Josh Salisbury

More negotiations over the rail strikes will take place next week, the Transport Secretary has said.

Asked about talks between the unions and employers, Mark Harper told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "First of all, the deal is not going to be done in TV studios, it is going to be done around a negotiating table between the trade unions, the train operating companies that run the trains, and Network Rail that run the track and the signalling.

“We have got to get people back around the table."

He added: “We had some good meetings before Christmas, we have got some more meetings scheduled next week.

“I would, frankly, rather they were taking place this week rather than the strikes happening, but that was a matter for the unions.

“It is RMT and Aslef that have scheduled strikes for this week; I would rather they were sat around the negotiating table.”

Government ‘not telling truth’ over rail strikes intervention, Lynch claims

Tuesday 3 January 2023 09:37 , Josh Salisbury

The Government is not telling “the whole truth", a union leader has suggested, after ministers said they did not intervene in rail strike negotiations in December.

Asked about Transport Secretary Mark Harper's claims that ministers did not intervene, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch told Sky News: “He is not telling you the truth, because we had a document with the train operating companies that did not include driver-only operation.

“It was taken away for approval in Whitehall at the Department for Transport and they inserted about eight or nine bullet points that completely undermined the negotiations.

“That was a direct intervention of Government ministers, we know that to be true.

“If he is saying that didn't happen, he is simply not telling you the whole truth."

Mick Lynch at Euston Station picket line on Tuesday (Jeremy Selwyn)
Mick Lynch at Euston Station picket line on Tuesday (Jeremy Selwyn)

‘Nightmare after Christmas’: Fed-up commuters vent frustration over strikes

Tuesday 3 January 2023 09:57 , John Dunne

Commuters left stranded by rail strikes have vented their frustrations, writes John Dunne.

Kelly Sandord, a 26-year-old retail buyer needed to get to Shrewsbury only to find there were no trains at Euston.

She said: “What a first day back it's like the nightmare after Christmas.

“We've just had enough, the way they have targeted Christmas and January is so selfish. You would think as a good will gesture they would put it on hold. To start the new working year like this is a massive downer. My sympathy for the strike is waning."

William Tulley, 58, was trying to get to Northampton after visiting relatives in London.

He said: "I'm not anti-strike but the country cannot continue like this. Covid set us back economically and socially in some ways and this industrial action is stopping our recovery. It's certainly a bleak start to the New Year."

 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

Rail strikes ‘totally selfish’, say stranded commuters

Tuesday 3 January 2023 10:07 , Josh Salisbury

Other commuters have spoken of how they have been prevented from getting to work over the strikes, writes John Dunne.

Lydia Sweeney, a 21-year-old hairdresser, said: “It’s all very well the train strikers stopping work over pay but I don’t earn a lot and they are either stopping me getting to work or making me late every day. There’s a cost of living crisis for all of us not just them. It’s totally selfish.”

Aisha Bhati, a 26-year-old student, said: “I need to get to college. I’m training to work in the NHS so I can do something worthwhile and these strikes are making life more difficult. I’m in favour of the nurses’ strike but I think the rail workers striking over Christmas and New Year has not helped their cause.”

Meanwhile, Monica and Mark Sheppard had been in London with her daughter Isabella after travelling down from Hull. They had booked to go to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Experience in Watford and were desperately trying to get a train.

Mr Sheppard said: “We are still hoping to get there, Isabella has been looking forward to it but the strike has made it a stressful journey. We don't want to let her down."

Isabella aged 8 at Euston Station morning during the train strike (Jeremy Selwyn)
Isabella aged 8 at Euston Station morning during the train strike (Jeremy Selwyn)

Strikes will go beyond May ‘unless reasonable offer made’ - union

Tuesday 3 January 2023 10:15 , Josh Salisbury

Mick Lynch has said industrial action will need to continue beyond May unless a reasonable offer is made to the RMT.

Speaking from a picket line at Euston station in London, he said: “They (the strikes) are likely to go ahead if there's no offer that we can work on.

“We would like to get into a situation where we're negotiating constantly with the companies and where we didn't have to have strike action, and then work up a settlement that our members could vote on and accept.

“But if we don't get that there will have to be more action, and we've got a mandate that runs through to May this year, and if we have to go further, that's what we'll need to do. We don't want that, though."

He added: “Our members are taking action right across the country, from the north of Scotland to the tip of Cornwall. The railway service has ground to a halt and it will be severely disrupted this week - we don't take any pleasure in that."

RMT claps back at Edwina Curry who claimed AI would make unions ‘redundant'

Tuesday 3 January 2023 12:29 , Barney Davis

Edwina Curry provoked the RMT into a response after sharing claims a deal could be close to end the strike.

The first of five strikes began today.

Suspensions and severe delays ongoing in latest TfL update

Tuesday 3 January 2023 12:46 , Barney Davis


What rail strikes have already been announced for January?

Tuesday 3 January 2023 14:41 , Josh Salisbury

Today’s action is set to be followed by further walkouts throughout the week. Here is an overview of when rail services are set to be disrupted due to strikes in the next few weeks, as well as some London bus services run by Abelio.

Services from trains to health will be hit by walkouts in January and beyond.

Here are some of the strikes planned:

- January 3

RMT members at Network Rail launch fresh strikes.

- January 4

The RMT rail workers’ strike continues.

In addition, some London bus workers at Abellio to go on strike.

- January 5

Train workers at 15 operators with the Aslef union to stage a 24-hour walkout.

London bus workers at Abellio to go on strike again.

- January 6

RMT rail workers will stage another 48-hour strike.

- January 7

The RMT rail workers’ walkout continues.

- January 10

London bus workers at Abellio to go on strike.

- January 12

Workers on London’s Elizabeth line will go on strike.

London bus workers at Abellio will also stage industrial action.

- January 16

London bus workers at Abellio will go on strike.

- January 19

London bus workers at Abellio will go on strike.

- January 25

London bus workers at Abellio will go on strike.

- January 26

London bus workers at Abellio will continue strike.

Tube updates: Bakerloo Line, Overground part suspended

Tuesday 3 January 2023 16:53 , Miriam Burrell

The Bakerloo Line and London Overground are part suspended as many commuters head home after their first day back at work for 2023.

Meanwhile there are severe delays on the Elizabeth Line and minor delays on the Central, Circle, District and Jubilee lines.

More information from Transport for London (TfL) can be found here.

Union members lose two weeks of ‘take home pay’

Tuesday 3 January 2023 17:13 , Miriam Burrell

RMT union members have lost “somewhere in the region of more than two weeks take home pay”, Senior Assistant General Secretary Eddie Dempsey has claimed.

He told Talk TV that members are set to “lose more money over the strike days that we’re undertaking over the next few days”.

Mr Dempsey said some have been “selling things this Christmas” to make ends meet and “no one” takes the strikes “lightly”.

“Our members are resolved, and determined to get a fair settlement,” he added.

Mr Dempsey claimed some members feared their marriage would be under strain if they had to take on more anti-social working hours.

Further details of anti-strike legislation to come

Tuesday 3 January 2023 17:44 , Miriam Burrell

The Government will come forward with further details on anti-strikes legislation, the Work and Pensions Secretary has suggested.

When asked if the Government would call off its anti-strikes legislation if the rail unions call off their strikes now, Mel Stride told the BBC: “Well, that’s not a matter for me as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, those are matters for the Prime Minister and then the Secretary of State for Transport.

He added: “I would make a more general point here, which is that I think we do have to question whether we’ve got the balance right between the rights of workers to strike and the inconvenience and sometimes danger that can pose to the public.

“So I think it’s quite right that the Government has come forward and already introduced some legislation, and we will come forward with further details.”

Work and Pensions Secretary, Mel Stride (PA Wire)
Work and Pensions Secretary, Mel Stride (PA Wire)

‘Subdued’ Christmas could be result of strikes, retail boss says

Tuesday 3 January 2023 18:25 , Miriam Burrell

Kris Hamer, director of insight at the British Retail Consortium, warned that continuing rail strikes could cause inflation to rise further.

The strikes led to a decrease in footfall on high streets ahead of the Christmas period.

Mr Hamer told the BBC: “We saw pre-Christmas that sales were relatively subdued. When the strikes were taking effect there was a switch of spending from stores to online.

“Running stores is expensive. Having business rates to pay, those costs need to be covered and the effect of lowering levels of demand because people can’t get to the shops is actually inflationary.

“That’s the last thing that we need.”

Driving instructor strike to take place tomorrow

Tuesday 3 January 2023 19:13 , Daniel Keane

Anyone expecting to take a driving test tomorrow will face disruption as examiners at theDVSA stage a walkout.

Driving test centres in London, south-east England, south-west England and Wales will be affected as members of the PCS union take strike action over pay, pensions, job security and redundancy terms.

Theory tests will not be affected but it is likely to impact practice exams.

However not all drivers are members of the PCS so your test may not be impacted.

Live coverage ends

Tuesday 3 January 2023 20:43 , Miriam Burrell

That’s all for our live coverage today.