Fresh wave of rail strikes looms in two weeks as talks fail

The potential walkouts threatened summer holidays, as a second major union revealed that it was balloting train drivers for action across large parts of the country. It could begin just as the schools break up.

Aslef has also balloted its members for industrial action over pay at 11 major train companies, including Arriva Rail London, Chiltern Railways, Great Western, LNER, Northern Trains, Southeastern, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains. The nerd closes on July 11 and strikes could begin two weeks later.

A separate ballot for drivers at Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry and Direct Rail Services closed on July 27.

The RMT has a mandate that allows it to announce new strikes until late November without consulting its members. Any action past that date will have to go to the nerd.

It came as a war of words broke out between Mr Lynch and Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary. Mr Lynch said Mr Shapps had “wrecked” negotiations, by preventing Network Rail from withdrawing a letter threatening statutory redundancy for up to 2,900 RMT members.

“Until the Government unshackles Network Rail and the train operating companies, it is not going to be possible for a negotiated settlement to be agreed,” Mr Lynch added.

Mr Shapps said that claim was a “total lie” and he denied he had anything to do with the letter.

“The RMT continues to deflect from the fact that the only people responsible for the massive public disruption this week is them,” he said in a statement.

“I want to urge Mick Lynch and his members to stop wasting time making false claims in the media and instead return to the negotiating table, so an agreement can be reached.”

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