Millions of rail passengers across Britain faced fresh disruption on Thursday after the RMT union accused the government of “sabotaging” negotiations.

Rail services are being severely disrupted this week after some 40,000 members of the union, who work for Network Rail and 13 train operators, voted in a row to make decisions on whether or not to take action. employment, wages and conditions.

Negotiations were held on Wednesday between the union and industry bosses in an attempt to break the deadlock, but they ended without an agreement.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of RMT, said: “Grant Shapps ruined these negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw its redundant threatening letter against our 2,900 members.

“Until the government dismantles Network Rail and the train operators, it will not be possible to reach a negotiated agreement.”

He added: “We will continue with our industry campaign until we reach a negotiated agreement that will provide job security and raise wages for our members in response to with the escalating cost of living crisis.”

Only 60% of trains run on Wednesday, and some operators will be shutting down service earlier than usual before the next wave of action.

The third and final strike of the week is scheduled for Saturday.

However, in a breakthrough, members of the Association of Salaries who work for Merseyrail have accepted a pay offer that union leaders say is worth 7.1%. .

Secretary-General Manuel Cortes described it as “a reasonable outcome for a reasonable offer”.

A survey of more than 2,300 people by Savanta ComRes found that more than half (58%) think industrial action is justifiable.

Passengers at Euston station in London

(PA)

A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said the railway reform was “very necessary”.

The unions have unjustly shut down large parts of the rail network, hit local businesses and cut people off from hospitals, schools and workplaces, a spokesman said.

“However, early data shows that, unlike in the past, many people now have the opportunity to work from home, so we don’t see a rush to the streets, as traffic has gone online, there is meaning unions didn’t have the overall impact they might have hoped for. “

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