United Kingdom

Train strikes: dates in December and January, and affected train companies

Rail passengers have been hit by a new wave of 48-hour strikes in the run-up to Christmas.

Railway union leaders have abandoned hopes of calling off planned strikes after “intensive talks” failed to break the deadlock in a labor dispute that has prevented overdue reforms to Britain’s railways. Trains stop running between 2 a.m. on the strike day and 2 a.m. the following day, causing two days of disruption.

It had been hoped that crucial changes in working methods could be agreed through negotiation. Changes that would save money and allow the wider rail industry to balance the books in the post-Covid world.

But hopes of a ceasefire were dashed when the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ Union (RMT) announced that its 40,000 members will leave in eight days – the biggest strikes to date in the dispute – effectively destroying the rail network. for the better part of a week before Christmas and another week into the New Year.

Taking into account planned technical works and further regional strikes between Christmas and New Year, some lines will be largely out of service for the better part of a month from mid-December.

What dates are the train strikes in December and January?

Nationwide RMT strikes

  • Tuesday December 13
  • Wednesday December 14
  • Friday December 16
  • Saturday December 17
  • Tuesday January 3
  • Wednesday January 4
  • Friday, January 6
  • Saturday January 7

On strike days, only one in five trains are expected to run and almost all operators will be affected.

On the days following a strike – the so-called “shoulder days” – the timetable will be about 60 percent of normal.

There is also a new work ban for overtime and rest days. The railways generally assume that staff are overworked and work on rest days. A union ban on this could wreak further havoc. Train bosses assess the impact and adjust the timetable accordingly.

There are also a series of regional railway strikes on other dates in December:

Regional strikes

  • Friday 2 December – Unite strike hits East Midlands Railways
  • Saturday 3 December – Unite strike hits East Midlands Railways
  • Sunday December 11 – Strike RMT Avanti West Coast
  • Monday December 12 – Strike RMT Avanti West Coast
  • Friday 23 December – Unite strike hits East Midlands Railways
  • Saturday 24 December – Unite strike hits East Midlands Railways

Avanti has said it expects its services to be significantly reduced on December 11/12 due to industrial action. East Midlands Railway has warned services will be extremely limited with last departures at 4.30pm on strike days.

Which train operators are involved?

Almost every train line will be affected in some way.

The strikes are by RMT members at Network Rail and at 13 train operators.

  • LNER
  • Northern trains
  • Avanti west coast
  • Southeastern
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Chiltern Railways
  • Hull trains
  • Great Anglia
  • Govia Thames Link (plus Gatwick Express)
  • London Underground
  • West Midlands trains (plus London Northwestern Railway)
  • Great Western Railway
  • Transpennin Express

The action against the operators has been overshadowed by the strikes at Network Rail – and signalmen in particular.

Network Rail has reserves of trained signalmen, but only enough to operate at 20 per cent of normal capacity.

Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railways will also be hit by additional strike action in December.

Can I get a refund if my train is cancelled?

RMT strike

Railway chiefs are still assessing what the policy will be and will make an announcement afterwards. Previously, customers could use pre-booked tickets the day before or get a refund if they had to travel on the day of the strike.

Season ticket customers were previously able to claim compensation through the delay refund scheme, while return tickets may be eligible for a 50% refund if you are unable to make part of your journey. Customers must request a refund within 28 days.

National Rail’s website states: “If you have purchased an advance, off-peak or any ticket and choose not to travel at all because your outbound or inbound service has been cancelled, delayed or rescheduled, then you are entitled to a refund or change from the original seller of your ticket.”

Regional strikes

At the Avanti West Coast strikes, customers can use tickets with a date of December 11 or December 12 anytime between today and December 14. They can also claim a refund if they have to travel on Sunday 11, Monday 12 or Tuesday 13 December.

Why are railway workers on strike?

Unions are demanding wage increases for their members who are battling rising inflation.

For RMT, Network Rail has offered an 8 percent increase over two years. Train operators have not yet got around to discussing wage increases. First, they want to agree on major reforms of working practices.

Working methods

Changes in what have been labeled “archaic” working practices are the most contentious issue in the dispute.

Travel habits have changed after the pandemic. Fewer and fewer people commute to work every day. More people travel by valley train, after the morning rush hour or at the weekend. Demand for business travel is stubbornly much lower than it was before Covid hit.

This means that Network Rail and the train operators, whose costs are ultimately borne by the taxpayer, will have to make cuts to balance the books. Part of this can be achieved through staff reduction. But much of it has to do with changing working methods, many of which are a legacy of British Rail and public ownership.

Bosses what to do to introduce more technology, make teams work more efficiently and end sections of track that operate in their own silos.

Trade unions fear that this will mean job cuts – and consequently their power will be weakened.

Royal Mail employees have also planned a series of strikes that could disrupt Christmas deliveries. Read on which dates the strikes will be held, as well as the details of the latest Christmas messages.