Commuters have been ‘relieved’ on strike days because they can work from home, a railway boss said ahead of the new strikes.
Andrew Haines, 57, who earns £588,000 a year as CEO of Network Rail, which runs the country’s track and signals and owns some of its largest stations, including Birmingham New Street and London King’s Cross, said people would get used to it not to go to work by train.
Network Rail signalmen who are members of the RMT union will strike again on March 16.
This will take place in addition to the walk-outs of the staff of 14 train companies on March 16, 18 and 30 and on April 1.
Railroads are struggling to bring passenger numbers back to pre-pandemic levels and Mr Haines’ comments come as the network sees the biggest price increase in a decade.
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said commuters were ‘relieved’ to not have to travel to work on strike days
Empty platforms in London Paddington on February 3. Further strikes will take place in March
Mr Haines, who has also been in charge of the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) since 2021, told The Sunday Times commuters were relieved to save on their travel costs on strike days.
“On strike days, it’s appalling that people are now so used to alternative ways of working (post-pandemic), that commuters are often quite relieved to be honest.
“In most cases, they haven’t bought a subscription… So they’re saving the money.”
“If we have to keep refusing people day after day, they will find alternatives,” he added.
He said the decrease in daily commuters on strike days made it easier for the government to oppose unions.
The RMT last month rejected a third wage offer of 9 percent over two years, without members being able to vote on the proposal.
Train travel has recovered to 89 percent of what it was before the Covid pandemic, but prices have increased from today.
Train fares will rise from today by the largest amount in more than a decade – just as the network threatens to be crippled by repairs over Easter.
The price increase of 5.9 percent is the largest since the 6.2 percent increase in 2011.
Meanwhile, fed up passengers – who are already bracing for more strikes – will see many of the 10 million scheduled journeys affected over the holiday weekend.
Seven of Britain’s eight main rail lines will be hit by Network Rail projects over the four days from April 7 to 10, with some journey times tripling.
Former transport minister Norman Baker, now spokesperson for the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Passengers are already struggling with rising fares and strikes.
“So Easter technical works will then be more misery for people who want to travel.
“There will be a lot of Easter work that needs to be done. But Network Rail must do the work efficiently and minimize track closures.’
The RMT, led by Secretary-General Mick Lynch, last month rejected a third wage offer of 9 percent over two years, without members being able to vote on the proposal (pictured in February)
The price increase of 5.9 percent is the largest since the 6.2 percent increase in 2011
One of the worst Easter shutdowns ever will see dozens of planned plans cost Network Rail tens of millions of pounds, with up to 20,000 engineers expected to be involved.
Britain’s busiest line, the West Coast Main Line, is completely closed from Good Friday to Easter Monday between London Euston and Milton Keynes. Usually 32 minutes straight, the journey takes over an hour and a half via a replacement bus service and an alternate train route. Trains from Liverpool terminate at Rugby.
Other works on the line will cause serious delays between Carlisle and Glasgow, and between Stafford and Crewe.
The Gatwick Express is canceled for four days and London Victoria is closed to most trains.
There will be no Southeastern services from London Charing Cross on 8 and 9 April, some lines from London Liverpool Street will close and the new Elizabeth line will not run through central London.
Buses replace trains between Reading and Newbury and Woking and Winchester. Some services from Leeds will be discontinued and all lines between Peterborough and Norwich and Cambridge and Ely will be closed.
Other routes are gearing up for domino overcrowding, notably Chiltern Railways, whose nationwide services are likely to be swamped by passengers unable to travel between London and Birmingham on the West Coast Main Line.
Figures from the Government’s Office of Rail and Road show that the equivalent of one in 25 train services was canceled in the year to February 4, representing the worst-ever reliability in records dating back to 2014.