Government preparing ’emergency measures’ as strike ballot continues

Emergency plans are reported to be under discussion at Cabinet level ahead of a possible national rail strike. The RMT is currently balloting 40,000 staff at Network Rail and train operators in protest at job losses and pay falling well below the inflation rate. Rail freight disruption could hamper the distribution of food and fuel, and the continuing shortage of HGV drivers means that alternative road transport is not a simple option. The RMT’s ballot runs until 24 May.

Many services cancelled in Scotland because of driver shortage

About 300 trains were cancelled in Scotland yesterday because not enough drivers were available for Sunday shifts. Their absence has been linked to a dispute over pay with the drivers’ union ASLEF. A week earlier 110 Sunday services did not run for the same reason, and a strike ballot is now underway after the union had rejected a 2.2 per cent pay offer.  ASLEF said it had been left with ‘no option’ but to launch the vote, but invited ScotRail and the Scottish Government to join it for fresh talks. Services on TransPennine Express were also disrupted again yesterday in the latest of the RMT’s series of Sunday TPE strikes. The dispute is over conductors’ pay for working on Sundays and rest days.

Trains return to South Wales line

Normal rail services are running again between Pontypridd, Aberdare and Radyr in South Wales following a three-week possession to allow the line to be upgraded for the South Wales Metro on the Core Valley Lines. During the closure the first substation was built, and progress was also made on installing overhead lines, along with track and signalling improvements. Meanwhile Transport for Wales is supporting Mental Health Awareness Week by placing a floral display at Cardiff Central, with the aim of making stations feel brighter and happier for passengers now that Covid restrictions have ended. The display will be on the station for three days from tomorrow.