Visitors trying to get to the Eurovision Song Contest and FA Cup Final by rail could find their trains canceled due to a series of strikes. The main rail union, RMT, and the train drivers’ union, Aslef, have called for more strikes in May and June. Employees will stop working at more than a dozen train operators, including all the major commuter rail and long distance companies.
Drivers who work for more than a dozen train operators will be out of work on Friday 12 May, Wednesday 31 May and Saturday 3 June. A ban on overtime will also be introduced.
RMT has called for a strike by working members at 14 train operators on Saturday, May 13.
The walks will hit passengers hoping to get to Liverpool for the climax of the Eurovision Song Contest; The final takes place on Saturday, May 13. Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Northern are among the train operators that will be affected.
June 3 coincides with the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Manchester City, which will be held at Wembley in northwest London. Normally, tens of thousands of fans would travel by rail to the match. It will also affect riders going to the Epsom Derby.
Since June 2022, strikes by the national rail industry in a tangle of disputes over wages, job security and work arrangements have caused problems for tens of millions of train passengers. The stops were called frequently, causing major disruption and making advance travel planning difficult.
The main rail union, RMT, has been on strike for 24 days amid the current wave of strikes, with Aslef having to stop work eight times before.
These are the key questions and answers.
Who is featured and when?
Aslef has instructed all crew members working for 16 ship operators to strike on Friday 12 May, Wednesday 31 May and Saturday 3 June.
Training companies are companies that contract with the Ministry of Transport. These include the leading intercity operators:
- West Bank Avanti
- East Midlands Railway
- Great Western Railway
- Cross Pennine Express
The majority of commuter operators in London will also be affected:
- Anglia is bigger
- GTR (Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern, Thameslink)
- South East
- Southwest Railway
Operators focused on the Midlands and the north of England will be affected:
- Chiltern Railway
- northern train
- West Midlands Train
There will also be a ban on “overtime work” – on Saturday May 13, Monday 15 through Saturday May 20 and on Thursday June 1.
The RMT union has called on its members to go on strike on Saturday, May 13. The same train operators will join – with the addition of c2c, which runs from the City of London to south Essex.
What will be the effect?
During many of the RMT’s previous strikes, signalers working for Network Rail walked out and shut down at least half of the rail system.
They are now stable, so the network’s infrastructure will be open as usual.
However, on each strike day, thousands of trains will be canceled, ruining the travel plans of millions of passengers.
The impact of driver abandonment and RMT will be different.
During previous driver strikes, some operators – such as Avanti West Coast and Southeastern – canceled all trains.
Others have run a core service on core routes. On GWR, for example, travelers can expect a basic service from London Paddington to and from Bristol Temple Meads and Cardiff Centre.
The removal of RMT is expected to have less impact. GWR will likely run a more extensive timetable, including to and from Exeter and Plymouth.
Avanti West Coast will run a basic service, with one train per hour from Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow to London Euston.
LNER is likely to aim to run up to 40% of regular services on the East Coast mainline, with a focus on the London King’s Cross-York-Newcastle-Edinburgh axis.
On all strike days, the majority of services in Scotland and Wales will operate as normal as ScotRail and Transport for Wales are not involved in the dispute with Aslef.
Trains operated by these companies are likely to be busier than usual on lines normally shared with train operators with staff on strike, such as London-York-Newcastle-Edinburgh and Swansea -Cardiff-Newport.
Passengers can also expect casual service on:
- Caledonian Sleepers
- Big Center
- Express Heathrow
- Hull train
- London on the ground
The last of these, Merseyrail, will run additional Eurovision weekend trains – although the network is limited to the Liverpool area up to Southport and Ormskirk plus Wirral and Chester.
The ban on drivers working overtime is likely to particularly affect long-haul train operators such as Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express.
In addition, some evening services before the strike and early morning trains after the strike will be cancelled.
Eurostar will be affected?
No, but connections to and from the train operator’s main hub at London St Pancras International will be difficult as union members work for all three domestic train operators (East Midlands Railway, East Nam and Thameslink) serving the station will be leaving.
Why does RMT stand out?
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, has made salary proposals that unions say they cannot accept.
Earlier this month, RMT said it was reviewing proposals for improvements from train operators. But the rail union said the first-year 5% payment now appears contingent on RMT’s industrial mandate being terminated.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “RDG rejected their initial proposals and wrecked these negotiations.
“There is no doubt that their decision is due to the Tory government putting pressure on them.
“We therefore have no choice but to push for more strike action and continue our campaign to reach a negotiated agreement on wages, conditions and job security.”
Steve Montgomery, president of the Rail Delivery Group, dismissed the idea that the goalposts had moved. He said: “Nothing has changed in the offer that was agreed to by the RMT leadership two weeks ago in the negotiation room.
“RMT is negotiating in bad faith, denying its members a say in a fair pay arrangement, unnecessarily disrupting the lives of millions of our passengers and making undermine the viability of an industry vital to the UK economy.”
The main rail union is currently voting again for its members of the 14 train operating companies with the outcome expected on May 4. If the RMT passes all legal thresholds for turnout and achieves a “yes” vote, it will have an additional six months of strike authorization.
Why is Aslef taking industrial action?
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: “We don’t want to go on strike. We don’t want to inconvenience our passengers, we have family and friends who also use the rail and we believe in investing in rail for the future of this country.
“But the responsibility for this action, fairly and frankly, lies with the employers who forced us to hand this over with their indifference.
“The proposal – just 4% – is clearly not designed to be accepted as inflation is still at 10% and our members at these companies have not had a gain in four years.”
Mr Whelan said the companies involved were “disappointing passengers and taxpayers” and that “proposals to modernize UK railways and make them more efficient” had been rejected.
A spokesman for Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said: “This is disappointing news for our customers and employees, adding strike action is completely unnecessary. necessary and will only put more pressure on an industry already facing a severe financial crisis.
“Pointlessly targeting both the Eurovision final and the FA Cup final is disappointing for all those planning to attend.
“After weeks of negotiations with Aslef management, we have come up with a revised and fair offer that includes an 8% pay rise for two years. It will introduce long-standing, common sense improvements in parts of the network, which will result in more trains running on time for passengers. Sadly, this was denied.”
Can strikes be cancelled?
Seems like the most unlikely. The government – which will sign off on the final deal – and train operators appear to be pinning their hopes on eroding support for union members’ strikes.
By contrast, unions believe that support for the strikes remains strong, and ministers will eventually give in and agree to an unconditional pay rise.
I booked a ticket for one of the strike days. What can I do?
Passengers who purchase tickets in advance, anytime tickets or off-peak tickets can get a refund at no cost if the train on which the ticket has been booked is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.
Train operators have the ability to provide the flexibility to travel for days without a strike.
Non-traveling season ticket holders can claim for strike days through Delayed Payment.
What are the alternatives?
As always, the long-haul bus operators – National Express, Megabus and Flixbus – will continue to operate, although seats are becoming scarce and fares are rising.
Traveling from London to Liverpool over Eurovision weekend, Megabus has several seats with less than £40 return.
On the day of the FA Cup Final, National Express offers round-trip tickets from Manchester to London for under £40
What does the government say?
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Passengers have been forced to endure RMT strike action for almost a year, but RMT chief executive officer intends to continue to force its members to do so. lose more money.
“That is despite having the last and best offer, similar to the paid offer that their Network Rail members recently overwhelmingly voted to accept.
Once again denying their members a chance to speak out, and then attacking the UK’s first Eurovision event in 25 years – held for Ukraine – RMT simply continued continue to deceive the very passengers they serve.