Travel News > March 2010 > Trains may grind to a halt over Easter

Trains may grind to a halt over Easter

17/03/2010

Britain is heading for the first national rail strike in more than 15 years after unions voted to take industrial action over Network Rail's cost cutting plans. The first of a series of walkouts could take place as early as the Easter holidays, scuppering the travel plans of millions of families.

Network Rail claims it has contingency plans in place to deal with any strikes over Easter, but industrial action is bound to lead to train cancellations and delays.

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union said 77 per cent of its members had voted in favour of a strike in protest at Network Rail's plans to cut 1,500 maintenance jobs and change working practices.

The vote could lead to the first national rail strike since 1994, though no strike dates have been set. Signal workers will hold a separate ballot this week and their decision will be announced on Friday.

Network Rail claims its cost-cutting plans include having more maintenance staff working at weekends to make repairs and maintenance more efficient. The RMT claims the plans threaten the safety of train travel.

The union will decide its next step on Friday once the result of the signal workers' ballot is known.

A separate union, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), has balloted members over the proposed job cuts. The results will be announced tomorrow. Its 1,600 members, which include electrical controllers who supply power to train tracks, will also vote in the next few weeks on whether to strike over a 0.8 per cent pay offer.

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