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UK Faces Biggest Rail Strike In 30 Years - Perthshire Chamber of Commerce

UK Faces Biggest Rail Strike In 30 Years

The RMT union has blamed the "dead hand" of government after negotiations to prevent the biggest rail strikes in 30 years failed.

Thousands of staff at Network Rail and 13 rail operators are due to walk out on Tuesday, affecting most major lines.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said there would only be a resolution if ministers allowed employers to negotiate "freely".

The UK Government said the strikes were "completely unnecessary".

Strikes are planned for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday but services are expected to be affected from Monday evening with disruption continuing on non-strike days.

Network Rail has urged passengers to only travel by train if necessary and a special train timetable for 20 to 26 June was published on Friday.

The RMT has called for a pay rise of at least 7% to keep up with the cost of living.

But ministers have ruled out increases in line with inflation, which the Bank of England forecast would top 11% in the autumn.

Network Rail says the last trains between many major cities are expected to depart over the course of the afternoon, before more than 40,000 rail workers walk out over job cuts, pay and conditions. The strike begins at 00:01 BST on Tuesday.

Although ScotRail and Transport for Wales are not involved in the dispute, train services will be disrupted as the railways rely on Network Rail staff.

ScotRail said 90% of trains will be cancelled during the three days of strike action.

The reduced timetable will be in place until Sunday, with just 20% of usual services running on strike days.

Trains that do run will start later and finish much earlier than usual - between 07:30 and 18:30.

Vicki Unite, Chief Executive of Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, said:

“For businesses on the road to recovery after the devastation of the pandemic it really is the last thing they needed.

“The impact will be felt particularly by rural businesses, in the already fragile hospitality and tourism industries for example, for whom transport is a commercial lifeline.

“After Covid, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, if people can’t rely on rail transport to get to a venue, many will understandably elect to stay at home, and this could spell disaster for some businesses.

“Cancelled hotel and restaurant bookings will deprive them of essential revenue as they continue to try to rebuild, and the fear is that for some it might be one blow too many and could lead to them throwing the towel in.

“We can only hope for a swift resolution and that it doesn’t drag on for the crucial – and for many make or break - summer months.”

FROM SCC NETWORK

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