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Everything you need to know about the UK’s December train strikes

Further walkouts have been announced for December 13, 14, 16 and 17

Chiara Wilkinson
Ella Doyle
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson
Ella Doyle

Train strikes have continued this month, impacting rail travel up and down the country. The mass walkouts follow many other strikes that have taken place across the transport network since June this year, with the peak of disruption taking place on October 1 when just ten percent of services were running.

Although the RMT union’s planned strike dates earlier in November were called off, fresh walkouts have now been planned for December and January, set to bring major disruption over the festive period. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your travel.

When are the next train strikes?

According to the RMT, train operating companies and Network Rail have failed to come up with a written offer following a fortnight of talks, which means we’ll see new industrial action in December. 

There will be four periods of strike action by the RMT union taking place between December and January, which will impact Christmas travel. The days affected are December 13, 14, 16 and 17, and January 3, 4, 6 and 7. The strikes will take place across 14 major railway operators.

In a separate dispute, the RMT also said it will be holding strike action on Avanti West Coast services on December 11 and 12.

Rail passengers will also face disruption over Christmas as Network Rail carries out 300 engineering projects. Network Rail said no trains would be running into or out of London Liverpool Street station between December 25 and January 2. Find out more here.

How will rail travel be affected by the strikes?

Rail travel will be significantly disrupted by the strikes and travellers are urged check their route before they travel and to avoid using the railways if possible.

Find out more information about how services will be affected on the National Rail website.

When will the rail strikes end?

Members of the RMT union working at Network Rail and 14 train companies recently voted in favour of further strike action, which means that passengers could face another six months of disruption.

Unless a deal on pay, job security and working conditions is reached between unions and rail operators, it’s likely that strikes could continue into spring 2023. 

Why are workers going on strike?

Different unions are striking for different reasons – including job security and working conditions – but the overarching reason is the lack of pay rises. 

Rail workers in the ASLEF union recently walked out because they have experienced a real-terms pay cut over the past three years due to inflation and rising living costs, with union leaders criticising Network Rail’s ‘paltry’ pay offers.

Meanwhile, the RMT is striking in response to an ongoing dispute over working conditions, job security and pay. The TSSA said that it had failed to get assurances over job security and working practices, while members of the Unite union, responsible for managing and controlling the power supply to the rail network, said that they’d not received a pay increase for three years. 

Can I get a refund if my train is cancelled?

According to National Rail, if your train is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled due to the industrial action, you will:

• Be entitled to a change or refund from the original retailer of your ticket
• Be able to use your ticket with another train company or an alternative route if it is available

What do rail chiefs and unions have to say about the strikes?

On October 25, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Our focus in this dispute is the rail employers who have yet to make an offer that will create the conditions for a negotiated settlement.

‘I call upon the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to unshackle the rail industry so they can come to a settlement with RMT. We will vigorously pursue our industrial campaign until we achieve a deal.’

Meanwhile, on October 27, TSSA Interim General Secretary Frank Ward, said: ‘Our members do not take industrial action lightly. This dispute could be resolved speedily if [Transport Secretary] Mark Harper can avoid the mistakes of Grant Shapps and use his powers to mandate a fair pay rise, reasonable terms and conditions and no compulsory redundancies.’ 

Read more: fines for riding trains without a ticket are rising from £20 to £100.

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