Leeds train strikes: Network Rail boss says 'we want to get back around the table' as hundreds of Leeds services cancelled

Network Rail say they are committed to finding a quick end to the national rail strikes with over 80 per cent of services cancelled across the country.

By Alex Grant
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 12:43 pm

Passengers have been urged not to travel this week as thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 13 train operators go on strike.

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Strike action is expected today (Tuesday 21), Thursday 23 and Saturday, June 25, although the delays on these days will likely have a domino effect over following days.

In Leeds the usual 40 to 50 trains coming and going an hour is reduced to just 8 or 9.

Speaking exclusively to the YEP, Rob McIntosh, Eastern Region Managing Director for Network Rail, revealed they are committed to sitting down with RMT and finding a solution.

"Network Rail doesn't want to have strikes, we didn't want to have a strike in the first place. We want to get back around the table with the RMT and discuss how we can meet each other's needs," he said.

"We want to agree to a reasonable reform that will allow us to give a reasonable pay rise to our colleagues and compromise where we need too but that needs movement from both sides."

Skeleton services will be running throughout the strikes with 80 per cent of services cancelled.

Passengers have been urged not to travel this week as thousands strike.

In Leeds the usual 40 to 50 trains coming and going an hour is reduced to just 8 or 9.

Very limited services will be running on lines that will only be open from around 7.30am until 6.30pm with vital freight services running during the day, taking priority over passengers.

"Faced with such an aggressive agenda of cuts to jobs, conditions, pay and pensions, RMT has no choice but to defend our members industrially to stop this race to the bottom," read a statement from the union.

"RMT remains available for discussions that will settle this dispute and ensure our transport system can operate without disruption."

Over 40,000 railway workers are expected to walkout as part of the three days of national strike action later this month, in the biggest dispute on the network since 1989.

Discussions between both parties to reform working practices to reflect the financial crisis the industry has faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It's about how do we roster and deploy our people more effectively and efficiently to reduce the burden on tax payers and reduce the burden on passenger and ticket sales," Mr McIntosh said.

"Network Rail are open to restarting discussions any time the union wants too. We don't want these strikes to happen and our teams are ready and willing to engage with the RMT."

"I would like to apologise for the all the disruption today and to the disruption the strikes will cause to passengers and the communities that the railway serves." he added.