As you’ve probably heard, there are major train strikes happening nationally this week, including in the London area.
It’s the biggest train strike for around 30 years, with many operators warning passengers not to attempt to travel on strike days, as there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to complete your journey.
Here’s what you need to know about the strikes – we’ll update this page on strike days as we get a clearer picture of what is and isn’t running, and the knock-on effects.
When are the train strikes?
The official dates for this week’s train strikes are Tuesday 21 June, Thursday 23 June and Saturday 25 June. However, disruption is also expected either side of these dates, with services liable to wind down early the night before, and start late the morning after, and ’emergency timetables’ in place. So expect disruption all this week, and avoid using the train if possible.
Are the train strikes definitely happening this week?
Yes, they are now. Around 3.30pm on Monday afternoon, last-ditch talks between the RMT Union, Network Rail and the train operating companies to reach an agreement and stop the strikes broke down.
Are there any trains running during the strikes?
This depends on where you are traveling from and to, and which train operator you’re using.
According to Network Rail, around half of Britain’s rail network will be in operation, though early morning and late night services won’t run. Those lines which are open will only have a limited service, and only between around 7.30am and 6.30pm – so don’t hang around for a post-work pint, or you might not get home.
Some of the more major routes will still have services – though we’re being warned to expect major disruption, with very busy trains – whereas other routes won’t have any trains at all, with stations (and their facilities, including toilets, coffee shops etc) completely shuttered for the day. Check your route in advance with your operator – and again on the day, as there are likely to be last minute changes.
Are there replacement buses during the train strike?
Nope. Of course, many areas have regular public buses between towns and stations, which won’t be affected by the strike (though obviously, they’ll likely be busier than normal). But as for the normal rail replacement bus services provided when railway lines are closed for engineering works: none of these will be running.
Which train operators are affected by the strikes?
Those on strike include Network Rail staff, staff of several different train companies and London Underground staff. Companies and routes affected are listed below, with links to their latest strike news and advice – note that some, such as Southeastern, are issuing blanket Do Not Travel advice:
As well as TfL, particularly during the tube strike on Tuesday (see below).
Are TfL services affected by the train strikes?
On Tuesday, London Underground services will be affected by a tube strike (see below).
On other days, although TfL services (London Overground, Elizabeth line, trams and tubes) aren’t directly impacted by striking staff, any stations or stops which also serve National Rail trains are likely to be affected, and may even be closed if there aren’t enough staff to open them safely. And of course, all services which are running, including buses, are likely to be exceptionally busy as people seek alternatives to their usual routes. Honestly, walking or cycling around London is looking like your best bet.
See the TfL website for the latest information and advice.
Are there tube strikes this week too?
Yes, on Tuesday 21 June. 10,000 London Underground employees who belong to the RMT Union are holding their own strike on this day, alongside the national train strikes, which will make getting around London a bit … spicy.
For an idea of scale, the tube strikes which happened on 6 June only included around 4,000 staff but still managed to close most zone 1 stations for at least part of the day. However, think back to March this year when staff walked out on a Tuesday and Thursday in large-scale strikes – that involved 10,000 staff, around the same number of London Underground staff striking this Tuesday. So think disruption on that level, but with train strikes thrown in. FUN!
Who is on strike and why are there train strikes?
It’s the RMT Union leading these strikes. Around 40,000 members will be on strike, who work in roles such as station staff, signallers, and maintaining tracks and other infrastructure. So although members of other unions (train drivers, mainly) aren’t involved in the train strikes, it’s not possible to run a normal service safely without those 40,000 people.
According to the RMT:
… the source of these disputes is the decision by the Tory government to cut £ 4bn of funding from our transport systems – £ 2bn from national rail and £ 2bn from Transport for London.
Issues such as planned job cuts, pension changes, safety issues and pay cuts are being posited by the RMT as reasons for the strikes.
A separate 10,000 RMT members who work for London Underground are involved in the tube strike on Tuesday.
Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said:
Talks have not progressed as far as I had hoped and so we must prepare for a needless national rail strike and the damaging impact it will have.
Will there be more train strikes this summer?
Beyond Saturday 25 June, no more strikes have been announced at the time of writing. However, it is highly likely that there will be more, with RMT leader Mick Lynch saying that strikes could continue into the autumn. As far back as April, when the RMT balloted its members over whether to take strike action, the phrase ‘summer of chaos’ was being thrown around.
It all comes down to whether an agreement is reached in the dispute over pay and working conditions. Current rules state that anyone involved in strikes has to give their employer two weeks’ notice, so we should at least have some time to prepare for the next round. However, the RMT has said that planning for the next round could begin next week, meaning we could see the next strikes before mid-July.
One more thing – it’s going to be warm this week. At the time of writing, highs of 25 ° c on Tuesday and 28 ° c on Thursday are predicted in London. Makes a nice change from the way tube strikes usually coincide with torrential rain, but with services likely to be overcrowded, things are likely to get toasty, so do make sure you stay hydrated and look after yourself.