The RMT union has told its members to prepare to “shut down the rail system” in action over pay, redundancies and safety concerns.
The three-day action is due to coincide with a series of major cultural and sporting events around the country, including the Glastonbury festival.
The union announced on Thursday it will ballot its members at Avanti West Coast for strikes.
Meanwhile, on Friday (10 June) the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) said more railway workers are to be balloted for strikes in growing disputes over pay and jobs, increasing the threat of a summer of travel chaos.
The TSSA said its members on CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains and West Midlands Trains will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch campaigns of industrial action over pay, conditions and job security.
The newly announced TSSA ballots, among 570 workers, open on 16 June and close on 17 July, with the union warned a Yes vote could allow for strike action to take place ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The association is demanding a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies for 2022, no unagreed changes to terms and conditions, and a pay increase which reflects the rising cost of living.
When will the rail strike take place?
The strike will take place over three days – 21, 23 and 25 June – but it is expected to cause disruption for at least six days.
The first day of the action coincides with a separate walkout planned by TfL staff over job concerns on the London Underground, with around 50,000 workers expected to strike.
Around 40,000 staff around the country will then strike again on 23 and 25 June.
What services are affected?
RMT members from Network Rail and 13 train operators are taking part in the strike, affecting routes on the following networks:
- Avanti West Coast
- Chiltern Railways
- Cross Country Trains
- East Midlands Railway
- Great Western Railway
- Greater Anglia
- Northern Trains
- South Eastern
- South Western Railway
- TransPennine Express
- West Midlands Trains
Network Rail is drawing up contingency plans but expects as few as one in five trains to run during the strikes and for services to be limited to main lines and between 7am and 7pm.
There will also be strikes at three other rail companies over pay.
Workers on Hull Trains will strike on June 26, at Greater Anglia on June 23 and on Croydon Tramlink on June 28 and 29 and July 13 and 14.
What events will be affected?
The strike comes over a very busy few days around the country, with a number of major musical and sporting events scheduled and many attendees now having to find alternative means of transport.
Glastonbury Festival returns for the first time since 2019 and starts on 22 June, while that week will also see England play New Zealand in a Test cricket match in Leeds on 23 June, the British Athletics Championships in Manchester on 24-25 June, and gigs in London’s Hyde Park by Sir Elton John (24 June) and The Rolling Stones (25 June).
There will also be a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London on 24-25 June 24 and it is Armed Forces Day on 25 June.
Why are RMT workers striking?
The RMT union balloted its members on strike action after talks over pay and redundancy guarantees broke down.
The union says that railway staff who worked through the pandemic are facing job cuts, a pay freeze and attacks on employment conditions.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Rail companies are making at least £500 million a year in profits, whilst fat cat rail bosses have been paid millions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Railway workers have been treated appallingly and, despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry, with the support of the Government, has failed to take their concerns seriously.
“We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1% and rising.
“Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.”
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said the organisation was “doing everything we can” to avoid the strike action.
“There are two weeks until the first strike is planned. We will use this time to keep talking to our unions and, through compromise and common sense on both sides, we hope to find a solution and avoid the damage that strike action would cause all involved,” he said.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the strike action was “incredibly disappointing” and could drive passengers away from the railways “for good”.
He added: “The pandemic has changed travel habits – with 25% fewer ticket sales and the taxpayer stepping in to keep the railways running at a cost of £16 billion, equivalent to £600 per household. We must act now to put the industry on a sustainable footing.