Rail passengers face severe travel disruption over Christmas and the New Year as workers stage a series of 48-hour strikes in December and January in the long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.
The RMT union has revealed that more than 40,000 workers across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies will stage a series of 48-hour walk-outs.
Industrial action will take place on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December and on 3, 4, 6 and 7 January.
The RMT has also issued an overtime ban for its members across the railway network from 18 December to 2 January.
It will follow a strike this Saturday, 26 November, from members of the train drivers’ union, Aslef, working for 11 train operators.
Of the next tranche of walk-outs, RMT said in a statement: “Despite every effort made by our negotiators, it is clear that the government is directly interfering with our attempts to reach a settlement.
“The union suspended previous strike action in good faith to allow for intensive negotiations to resolve the dispute.
“Yet Network Rail have failed to make an improved offer on jobs, pay and conditions for our members during the last two weeks of talks.
“At the same time Rail Delivery Group, representing the train operating companies, have also broken a promise to make a meaningful offer on pay and conditions and even cancelled negotiations that were due to take place yesterday.”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country and will send a clear message that we want a good deal on job security, pay and conditions for our people.
“We have been reasonable, but it is impossible to find a negotiated settlement when the dead hand of government is presiding over these talks.
“The employers are in disarray and saying different things to different people, sometimes at the same time.
“This whole process has become a farce that only the new secretary of state can resolve. When I meet him later this week, I will deliver that message.”
Mr Lynch added that the union was “sorry to inconvenience” the public this Christmas, but urged them to “direct your anger and frustration at the government and railway employers during this latest phase of action”.
“Working people across our class need a pay rise and we are determined to win that for our members in RMT,” he said.
The effects of these strikes is now well established after a number of similar walk-outs impacted British travellers over the summer and earlier this autumn; industrial action from around 5,000 Network Rail signallers will mean half the rail network is closed, with a much-reduced service on the remainder.
Non-union members and managers will enable a service to run between 7.30am and 6.30pm across about half the rail network.
Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “No one can deny the precarious financial hole in which the railway finds itself. Striking makes that hole bigger and the task of finding a resolution ever more difficult.
“Only through reform, that will not result in anyone losing their job, can savings be made that can then be converted into an improved offer. And while progress has been made over these last two weeks, we still have yet to find that breakthrough.
“We will not give up and hope that the RMT will return to the table with a more realistic appreciation of the situation.”
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators, said: “We made real progress over the last fortnight of talks and for the first time in months we can see the outline of a credible deal.”
The ongoing disputes are centred around pay, working conditions and job security.
The RMT union says its average member earns £31,000 annually, “with many on much less, and none have seen an increase in three years”. The RMT also says the dispute is about “preventing catastrophic cuts that will directly impact maintenance and accessibility”.
The Independent has approached the Department for Transport (DfT) for comment.