UK Drivers Brace For “Big Traffic Increases” Amid “Largest Rail Strike In Modern History”
Britain is on the cusp of a massive strike that begins Tuesday and will paralyze at least half of the country’s railway network, resulting in what could be a surge in traffic as train passengers switch to road transportation.
The Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers union (RMT) will strike tomorrow, Thursday, and Sunday in what union bosses call the “biggest rail strike in modern history.” The Independent reports last-ditch talks between the rail union and Network Rail, and 13 train operators failed to resolve pay, jobs, and conditions disputes. As many as 40,000 unionized rail workers will participate in the walkout.
Chief Treasury Secretary Simon Clarke told Sky News on Monday that travelers will suffer “misery” this week:
“I think the public do this week need to be aware there will be very substantial disruption and it is therefore sensible to make preparations for that,” Clarke said.
BBCBreakfast: ‘This is going to cause misery…’
Last ditch talks are due ahead of the biggest rail strike in 30 years.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke told #BBCBreakfast the Government was not actively looking for a fight with Unions
— Patrick Kolipson (@PKT_develop) June 20, 2022
Motoring group AA forecasted increased highway traffic as passengers switched to road transportation. AA said Scotland, Wales, and major roadways across the UK will see “a big increase in traffic.”
RAC, another motoring group, said the strike would result in more road usage:
“Major city routes as well as those serving the home counties are likely to see some of the biggest increases in traffic volumes as, even if rail lines are still open, there will be significantly fewer trains running.
“With strikes like these planned it’s perhaps little wonder that so many drivers across the country are dependent on their vehicles. Traffic jams aside, using a car often turns out to be the most practical and reliable way of getting around,” RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said.
Network Rail posted a map of the affected service areas that span the country.
“Ultimately, this is a matter between the employers—the train operating companies and Network Rail—and the trade unions, and the government doesn’t sit directly as a part of those talks for a very good reason—that we don’t intervene in a specific process between an employer and the unions representing employees, but we are there to provide the support and enabling framework for those talks to succeed,” the treasury minister said.
Clarke said the rail union had requested a 7% pay boost to keep up with the highest inflation in four decades. All of which probably helps explain why the UK’s Misery Index is at its highest since 1992…
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned the strike would “punish” millions of “innocent people” and is “a huge act of self-harm” that will “jeopardize the future of the railway itself.”
Transport Secretary @GrantShapps says this week’s rail strikes will cause “total misery”, adding that the railways “must continue to function” after receiving £16bn of taxpayers’ money during the pandemic.
? Sky 501, Virgin 602 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/pHUOGF2nAK
— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 20, 2022