Commuters faced fresh travel chaos on Wednesday when thousands of workers walked out on strike, affecting services across the country.
Disputes over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions are worsening in bitter rows, with more strikes expected in the coming days, and industrial action planned on the railways and London Underground next month.
Just one in five trains will run on Wednesday, with almost half the network running, with some areas having no trains all day.
RMT will continue to communicate in good faith but we will not bully or ridicule anyone.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) and 14 train operators at Network Rail went on strike, with picket lines being set up outside train stations.
Passengers are advised to travel by train only if necessary, and allow extra time if necessary and check when their last train departs.
Trains are expected to be disrupted on Thursday morning with services resuming after employees return to duty.
The Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) has also announced a strike by its members on the West Coast on Wednesday, while members of drivers’ union SLIF in seven companies will strike on Saturday.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said union members were more committed than ever to achieving decent pay rises, job security and good working conditions.
“Network Rail has not made any improvements to its previous pay offer and the train companies have not made us any new offers.
“Indeed, Network Rail has already threatened to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts in maintenance work if we do not withdraw our planned strike action.
“The train operating companies are flouting our members’ terms and conditions and putting driver-only operations on the table.
“RMT will continue to communicate in good faith but we will not be bullied or ridiculed by anyone.
“The government needs to stop interfering in this dispute so that the rail employers can resolve it through negotiations with us.”
Andrew Haynes, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “Despite our best efforts to find a breakthrough, I fear there will be further disruption for passengers this week as the RMT is determined to continue its political campaign rather than compromise. Looks like agreeing to a contract for your members
“I’m just sorry for the impact this pointless strike is having on passengers, especially those traveling for the holidays or the opening of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 semi-finals (Wednesday) and the Commonwealth Games. Attending events like the ceremony (Thursday).”
It is now clearer than ever that the RMT has no interest in engaging in constructive dialogue and is bent on causing further suffering for passengers across the UK.
Steve Montgomery, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We are incredibly disappointed that the RMT and Aslef leadership are continuing with this action, which is disrupting the summer plans of millions – including Common Participants in wealth games.
“While we will do everything possible to minimize disruption to passengers, we advise that you only travel if absolutely necessary, and if you are going to travel, please plan ahead. Do it.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “It is now clearer than ever that the RMT has no interest in engaging in constructive dialogue and is bent on causing further suffering for passengers across the UK.
“This action is a cynical attempt to derail the start of the Commonwealth Games, one of the first major events the country has faced since the pandemic.”
Members of the RMT and TSSA will hold joint strikes on August 18 and 20, while the RMT has announced strike action on the London Underground on August 19.