How much do rail workers earn as more train strikes announced over Christmas?

RMT union members are set to strike over the Christmas holidays  (Getty Images)
RMT union members are set to strike over the Christmas holidays (Getty Images)

RMT, the UK’s biggest rail union, has announced workers will take industrial action throughout the Christmas period, from 6pm on December 24 until December 27 after a pay offer was rejected.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said the RMT was “playing fast and loose with people’s Christmas plans and the new strike dates announced deliberately target vital engineering work designed to improve the railway”.

So amid the chaos, just how much does the average rail worker earn and when are the rail strikes for December and January?

UK Train & Tube Strike | Tuesday 21 June 2022

Passengers arrive at Kings Cross Station, London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions (PA)
Passengers arrive at Kings Cross Station, London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions (PA)
Commuters on the Central Line at Stratford Station (Getty Images)
Commuters on the Central Line at Stratford Station (Getty Images)
Passengers wait for Stratford station to open in London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions (PA)
Passengers wait for Stratford station to open in London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions (PA)
Traffic on the A1203 near Kings Cross in London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. (PA)
Traffic on the A1203 near Kings Cross in London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. (PA)
People walk on London Bridge, the day after a national rail strike, during six days of travel disruption (REUTERS)
People walk on London Bridge, the day after a national rail strike, during six days of travel disruption (REUTERS)
Passengers wait for Stratford station to open in London (PA)
Passengers wait for Stratford station to open in London (PA)
Commuters arrive at Stratford Station (Getty Images)
Commuters arrive at Stratford Station (Getty Images)
People walk on London Bridge in view of The Shard, the day after a national rail strike, during six days of travel disruption (REUTERS)
People walk on London Bridge in view of The Shard, the day after a national rail strike, during six days of travel disruption (REUTERS)
Passengers await their trains to be announced, at a quiet Euston station, in Londo (AP)
Passengers await their trains to be announced, at a quiet Euston station, in Londo (AP)
A group of passengers board a number 87 double-decker bus to Aldwych at a stop outside Clapham Junction station (PA)
A group of passengers board a number 87 double-decker bus to Aldwych at a stop outside Clapham Junction station (PA)
(Supplied)
(Supplied)

Train strikes in December and January

Alongside train strikes taking place between December 24 and 27, industrial action for 14 train companies across four 48-hour periods will take place on December 13-14, December 16-17, January 3-4, and January 6-7.

The RMT represents staff at Network Rail workers at 14 train operating companies involved in strike action and recently accused the network of using both passengers and workers as “pawns in a fight with the government”.

Disputes involving pay, jobs and working conditions have caused two sets of talks with further strike action announced.

Alongside passengers facing travel turmoil for the build-up to Christmas and thereafter, pub and restaurant owners have expressed their dismay at strike action that will likely affect profits.

UK Hospitality recently warned that the strike action will cost the sector about £1.5bn in lost sales.

How much do rail workers earn?

Rail workers – not including train drivers – earn a median salary of £36,800, according to the ONS.

The median salary for rail travel assistants, such as ticket collectors, guards and information staff, is £33,310.

The median salary for rail construction and maintenance operatives is £34,998.

Rail transport operatives, such as signallers and drivers’ assistants, earn a median salary of £48,750.

However, the RMT says the median salary for rail workers is closer to £33,000, because the ONS’s figures do not include cleaners’ salaries, which make up about 10,000 of RMT members.

How much do train drivers earn?

The median salary for train and tram drivers was £59,189 in 2021.

But train drivers are not part of the workers striking, as they are represented by their own union, the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (Aslef), not the RMT Union.

Around 96 per cent of train drivers in Britain are a part of Aslef, and the other 4 per cent are not union members.

The transport secretary described the strike escalation as “incredibly disappointing”.