Five days of rail strikes affecting Northamptonshire passengers begin - everything you need to know

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Days of disruption as railway workers strike for better pay and working conditions

Five days of industrial action on railways affecting Northamptonshire passengers have begun, crippling services in the county.

Operators London Northwestern (LNWR) and East Midlands Railway (EMR) have both warned of huge disruption to services from Tuesday (January 3) to Saturday (January 7) affecting passengers at Northampton, Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Long Buckby train stations.

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Around 40,000 workers on Network Rail and 14 train operating companies - part of the RMT union - will walk out on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

Rail strikes affect services in Northamptonshire.Rail strikes affect services in Northamptonshire.
Rail strikes affect services in Northamptonshire.

ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, will walk out on Thursday (January 5), after members voted for strike action.

How will this affect my journey?

There will be no trains running from any Northamptonshire railway stations on Thursday January 6.

On the other four days (January 3, 4, 6 and 7), a reduced service on the LNWR line will run from Northampton to Birmingham and London from 7am to 7pm, only.

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For Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough, on the same four days, trains between London and Corby will run as one per hour from 7.30am to 6.30pm, only. EMR says services will start from 7am on Sunday (January 8) and a normal timetable should then resume.

What if I’ve already bought a ticket?

Advance, off-peak or anytime tickets on LNWR and EMR can be changed to another date, if your train is cancelled or delayed, and you choose not to travel. The companies say tickets can also be returned for a full refund at your point of purchase. No administration fee will be charged.

What train operators have said

An EMR statement said: “If you are planning to travel during this time it is important to check your journey as we will be operating a significantly reduced service on strike days and we will not operate any services on January 5. Only travel by rail if absolutely necessary and if you do travel, expect severe disruption.

“On strike days EMR services will run between the hours of 07.30am – 6.30pm only. Services will start later and finish earlier than usual with the last departures starting between 3pm and 4.30pm. Please ensure you check the time of the first and last return train before you travel.

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“Strike action will affect other routes across the country with very limited services running on the rail network.”

A LNWR statement said: “Industrial action has been announced impacting train operators and Network Rail between January 3-7, 2023. During this time, reduced timetables will be in place, and trains will not be operating on some routes.

“Additionally, this industrial action is impacting the national rail network across the UK. Trains are expected to be extremely busy during this time, and you're advised to only travel if necessary.”

What the union leaders have said

Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said: "The Government is blocking the union's attempts to reach a negotiated settlement with the rail employers.

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"We have worked with the rail industry to reach successful negotiated settlements ever since privatisation in 1993. And we have achieved deals across the network in 2021 and 2022 where the Department for Transport (DfT) has no involvement.

"Yet in this dispute, there is an unprecedented level of ministerial interference, which is hamstringing rail employers from being able to negotiate a package of measures with us, so we can settle this dispute.

"We will continue our industrial action campaign while we work towards a negotiated resolution."

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Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF added: “We don’t want to go on strike but the companies have pushed us into this place.

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“They have not offered our members at these companies a penny – and these are people who have not had an increase since April 2019.

“That means they expect train drivers at these companies to take a real-terms pay cut – to work just as hard for considerably less – when inflation is running at north of 14 percent.

“The train companies say their hands have been tied by the government. While the government – which does not employ us – says it’s up to the companies to negotiate with us. We are always happy to negotiate – we never refuse to sit down at the table and talk – but these companies have offered us nothing. And that is unacceptable.”

What the Transport Secretary has said

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Transport Secretary, Mark Harper said: "I meet all of the union leaders and had some very constructive discussions. I made sure there was a new, improved pay offer on the table for the unions to consider.

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"We’re not going to get the dispute resolved by people standing on picket lines. We need to get them back round the negotiating table to thrash out a deal. A deal that has to be fair both for the people who work in the industry, for the passengers that pay the fayres but also for the taxpayer.

"We had some good meetings before Christmas, we have some more meetings scheduled for next week, I’d frankly rather them be taking place this week rather than the strikes happening. That was a matter for the unions. We need to talk through and thrash out the issues.

"I want a reformed railway system that reflects the world as it it, so a proper seven day railway, ticket office staff not stuck in ticket offices but actually out on platforms helping passengers. We want reform and we want a fair pay offer,” he added.