A third planned 24-hour rail strike will go ahead today after a week of major disruption to Scotland’s train network.
The RMT union has taken industrial action over a multi-year pay freeze and a lack of guarantee that there would be no compulsory redundancies across the network.
Train services across the UK have been thrown into chaos after two planned strikes took place on Tuesday and Thursday, with services running on the days in between also facing major delays and cancellations.
Train operators have strongly urged passengers to “only travel by train if necessary” this weekend and to check their journey in advance.
ScotRail has warned passengers it will have reduced services running on five railway lines between 7.30am and 6.30pm on Saturday.
The train operator said Network Rail will be unable to open other signal boxes to operate passenger services on any other routes.
Disruption is expected to last into Sunday, with music fans attending the Liam Gallagher gig at Glasgow’s Hampden Park that evening being warned the last train from nearby Mount Florida station back into the city centre is set to leave before the end of the event.
Scottish organiser Gordon Martin told the PA news agency that members are “resolute”, and he welcomed the “overwhelming” public support for the union’s industrial action.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said “there’s a long way to go yet” in rail company talks, as proposals will “very difficult to take on board” for rail workers.
Mr Lynch has not ruled out further strike action this summer, and said the RMT will decide after discussions next week.
Speaking to Sky News Breakfast, Mr Lynch said of the talks: “They’ve given us a lot of detail about what they want from what they might call the new modern railway, what we don’t know is how our members are going to respond to that.
“We hear a lot of the changes they want to make, but our members when they hear it will find a lot of the changes very difficult to take on board, so we’ll have to see what the complete package is and then we’ll have to go to our people and consult them in detail to see if they want to accept this package.
“So there’s a long way to go yet. But most of the stuff that our members voted very heavily in favour for action about are what’s on the table now and they’ve not diluted very much the stuff that they want.”
He said issues yet to be resolved include “severe changes to our members’ terms and conditions, they do want to cut thousands of jobs, they want to recontract virtually everyone that works on the railway on a set of terms and conditions and pay that is lower than we currently have, and that in some ways is a form of fire and rehire”.
He added: “They’re saying we either have to adapt and adopt these new practices, or we will lose our jobs in greater numbers than even we thought, so there is still that constant threat to us, of mass job losses, thousands of jobs, new contracts of employment, new working practices, which will be detrimental to our people and we still haven’t got any offer that’s suitable on pay.”
Phil Campbell, ScotRail head of customer operations, said: “We’ll be doing what we can to help Liam Gallagher fans travel to Hampden Park on Sunday, but customers should plan ahead as services will be impacted by Saturday’s Network Rail RMT strike action, engineering work near Haymarket and Barrhead, and by the temporary timetable we currently have in place.”
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Unfortunately, the RMT’s decision to carry out another day of needless and premature strike action means our passengers will suffer again on Saturday.
“A fraction of trains will run compared to a usual Saturday service, with trains starting later in the morning and finishing much earlier in the evening.
“I am really sorry to our passengers for the inevitable disruption to their journeys and their weekend.
“We remain at the table and ready for talks, day or night, and will do everything we can to avoid further disruption for our passengers.”
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