UK set for transport meltdown with strikes shutting half of rail network

Strike action planned for next week will disable Britain's railways

Passenger services will be affected across the UK, including in Cornwall. Bloomberg
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Half of Britain's rail lines will be closed during next week's strikes, Network Rail said.

Network Rail said no passenger services will serve locations such as Penzance in Cornwall, Bournemouth in Dorset, Swansea in South Wales, Holyhead in North Wales, Chester in Cheshire, and Blackpool in Lancashire.

There will also be no passenger trains running north from Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Open lines include the West Coast Main Line from London to Scotland via locations such as Birmingham and Manchester.

The strike days are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday next week.

The number of passenger services on those days is expected to be limited to about 4,500 - down from 20,000 normally.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 13 train operators are to strike for three days next week in similar disputes over pay, jobs and pensions.

Lines will only be open between 7.30am and 6.30pm, meaning services will start later and finish earlier than usual.

Passengers "who must travel" are urged to "plan ahead" to ensure they can complete their journeys within this window, Network Rail said.

Last services from London to Scotland will leave in the early afternoon.

In a heated exchange in the House of Commons during Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions, Labour leader Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of secretly wanting the strikes to go ahead "to sow division in the country".

In response, Mr Johnson accused Mr Starmer of being in hoc to "rail barons" - a derogatory term for union officials - and described the impending industrial action as "Labour's strikes".

When later questioned by another Labour politician over whether he had sought to negotiate with unions to prevent "the biggest rail dispute in a generation", Mr Johnson said there was no point, citing an unnamed "rail baron" who had allegedly said "I don't negotiate with Tory government".

Labour leader Keir Starmer at Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions, where he accused Boris Johnson of secretly wanting the strikes to go ahead. PA

Millions to be affected

Steve Montgomery, who chairs industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "These strikes will affect the millions of people who use the train each day, including key workers, students with exams, those who cannot work from home, holidaymakers and those attending important business and leisure events.

"Working with Network Rail, our plan is to keep as many services running as possible, but significant disruption will be inevitable and some parts of the network will not have a service, so passengers should plan their journeys carefully and check their train times."

Only about 12,000-14,000 services will be able to run on the days following the strikes.

This is because signallers and control staff will not work overnight shifts that begin on the strike dates, and trains will not be able to leave depots for several hours later than normal.

Updated: June 15, 2022, 1:09 PM