Rail passengers face another day of disruption today as RMT union members walk out for the third time this week.
Union members are staging 24-hour strikes on South Western Railway (SWR), Northern, Merseyrail and Greater Anglia in the long-running dispute over the role of guards on trains.
Picket lines will again be mounted outside railway stations affected by the strike, as they were during the strikes on Monday and Wednesday.
Passengers once again face delays, cancellations and replacement buses.
Travellers on SWR will have to cope with further disruption this weekend because of engineering work which will affect several routes, with replacement bus services in areas including Southampton, Brockenhurst, Woking and Guildford.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “This week, in the midst of the Tory reshuffle shambles, we called on Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to organise summit talks to move these disputes forwards. We have have had no response.
“Mr Grayling’s silence speaks volumes. It is becoming clearer by the minute that all the Tory Government are interested in is protecting the fat profits of the greedy private rail companies regardless of the impact on services and safety.
“The strikes today are about putting public safety before private profit. If RMT can cut deals in Wales and Scotland that guarantee a guard on the trains and which underpin public safety, security and access on our railways, there is no reason we can’t reach the same agreements in England.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said earlier this week: “This is a dispute between a private company and the RMT. However, the Transport Secretary recognises the disruption caused to passengers and has met with union leaders on several occasions, including as recently as December, to help bring an end to the strikes.
“He offered guarantees of employment to members who currently fulfil the role of the second person on the train beyond the length of the franchises.
“Nobody is losing their job as a result of driver-controlled operation trains – employees have been guaranteed jobs and salaries for several years.”
Northern said it would run around 1,350 services on strike days, more than half its normal timetable, mostly between 7am and 7pm.
SWR plans to run more than 70 per cent of its normal weekday service of 1,700 trains, although there will be rail replacement buses, arrangements to have tickets accepted on other train companies and most routes will see a reduced service.
Greater Anglia plans to run a normal service, with no alterations. Merseyrail will run a reduced service, mostly between 7am and 7pm, with a break during the middle of the day.
Alex Hayman of consumer group Which? said: “Frustrated passengers who face yet more disruption to their rail services will be disappointed to find out that their rights to compensation when delayed as a result of a strike are surprisingly complicated.
“You can only claim compensation during a strike if a train was delayed for long enough to qualify or if it didn’t turn up at all, based on the revised timetable.
“If operators aren’t planning to run any services whatsoever, then unfortunately you can’t claim compensation.”
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “No one wins when strike action disrupts the lives of people trying to get to work, get their children to school or to run their local business.
“Working together we will minimise the impact of the RMT strikes and find a way through this dispute so that we can play our part to support Britain’s economy.”