Commuters are ‘relieved’ on days of train strikes because they get to work from home and save money, Network Rail boss says
- Andrew Haines, 57, said commuters are ‘relieved’ to save money on strike days
- Read more: Commuters face biggest rail fare rise for a decade from Sunday
Commuters are ‘relieved’ on strike days because they can work from home, a railway boss has said ahead of fresh walk outs.
Andrew Haines, 57, who earns £588,000 a year as CEO of Network Rail, which controls the nation’s track and signals and owns some of its biggest stations, including Birmingham New Street and London King’s Cross, said people would get used to not going to work by train.
Signallers at Network Rail who are members of the RMT union will strike again on March 16.
This will be alongside walk outs by staff at 14 train firms on March 16, 18, and 30, and on April 1.
The railways have been struggling to restore passenger numbers to pre-pandemic levels and Mr Haines’ comments come as the biggest price increase in a decade is implemented across the network.
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said commuters were ‘relieved’ not to have to travel into work on strike days
Empty platforms at London Paddington on February 3. Further strikes will take place throughout March
Mr Haines, who since 2021 has also been in charge of the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT), told The Sunday Times that commuters were relieved to save the cost of their travel on strike days.
‘On strike days, the horrible thing is that people are now so used to alternative ways of working [after the pandemic], that commuters, frankly, are often quite relieved.
‘They haven’t bought a season ticket in most cases… So they save the money.’
Read more: Commuters face biggest rail fare rise in more than a decade from TODAY
‘If we keep having to turn people away, day after day, then they will find alternatives,’ he added.
He said the decline in daily commuter numbers on strike days made it easier for the government to stand against unions.
The RMT rejected a third pay offer of 9 per cent over two years last month, without allowing members to vote on the proposal.
Rail journeys have recovered to 89 per cent of what they were before the Covid pandemic but prices have been increased from today.
Rail fares will soar by their biggest amount in more than a decade from today – just as the network faces being paralysed by repairs over Easter.
The price rise of 5.9 per cent is the biggest since the 6.2 per cent increase in 2011.
Meanwhile, fed-up passengers – already bracing themselves for more strikes – will see many of the ten million planned journeys over the holiday weekend affected.
Seven of Britain’s eight main rail lines will be hit by Network Rail projects over the four days from April 7 to 10, and some journey times will treble.
Former Transport Minister Norman Baker, now a spokesman for the Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘Passengers are already having a tough time with fares increasing and strikes.
‘So Easter engineering works will be more misery for people who want to travel then.
‘A lot of Easter works will take place, and they need to be undertaken. But Network Rail must do the work efficiently and minimise track closures.’
The RMT, led by Secretary-General Mick Lynch, rejected a third pay offer of 9 per cent over two years last month, without allowing members to vote on the proposal (pictured in February)
The price rise of 5.9 per cent is the biggest since the 6.2 per cent increase in 2011
One of the worst-ever Easter rail shutdowns will see dozens of planned schemes cost Network Rail tens of millions of pounds, with up to 20,000 engineers expected to be called in.
Britain’s busiest line, the West Coast Main Line, will be completely shut between London Euston and Milton Keynes from Good Friday to Easter Monday. Usually 32 minutes direct, the journey will take more than an hour and a half via a replacement bus service and alternative train route. Trains from Liverpool will terminate at Rugby.
Other works on the line will cause serious delays between Carlisle and Glasgow, and Stafford and Crewe.
The Gatwick Express is scrapped for four days, with London Victoria shut to most trains.
No Southeastern services will go from London Charing Cross on April 8 and 9, some lines from London Liverpool Street will close, and the new Elizabeth line will not run through Central London.
Buses will replace trains between Reading and Newbury and Woking and Winchester. Some services from Leeds will be axed and all lines are shut between Peterborough and Norwich, and Cambridge and Ely.
Other routes are braced for knock-on overcrowding, especially Chiltern Railways, whose rural 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 cancelled in the year to February 4, representing the worst-ever reliability in records dating back to 2014.
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