Train strikes predicted to cause massive disruption from Friday
Times Online: July 18, 2006
By Lee Glendinning
A strike by signallers on Friday and Saturday is predicted to cripple 80 per cent of the rail network (Ben Gurr/The Times)
Thousands of commuters across England could be disrupted on Friday and Saturday as rail staff threaten to hold a series of rolling strikes which would halt up to 80 per cent of services.
South West Trains, the train operating company whose services run mostly out of Waterloo station and cover the south-east and south-west of England, has already warned that many routes "will have no trains at all" for 48 hours because of a strike over pay and conditions between signallers and Network Rail. Other train operating companies will also be affected.
Commuters are advised not to travel from noon on Friday until midnight on Saturday. Network Rail has predicted that only 800 trains out of the usual 4,000 will run nationwide.
The dispute surrounds an ongoing row with 5,000 signallers working for Network Rail. Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union are arguing that they are not being given the same rights as infrastructure workers
The union is pressing for a one-year pay deal and has rejected Network Rail’s attempts to negotiate a longer agreement. Talks will be held later today in a bid to avert a strike.
Further strikes are scheduled to be held the following Thursday, July 27, and Saturday, July 29.
In a separate fight, South West Trains drivers will hold four 24-hour strikes because of tensions over staff not being provided with taxis after an early morning or late night shift.
The strikes will be held a week on Friday, July 28, then Monday July 31, Friday August 11 and Monday August 14, the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen union said.