Biggest rail strike for 30 years could see network in meltdown

Even Southern, a rail network where its workers are not striking, is asking passengers not to travel next week. By JEREMY CLACKSON, transport correspondent

Train operators are appealing to their regular passengers and commuters not to travel next week, when the biggest rail strike for 30 years is to be staged.

Expect the worse: passengers are being asked not to travel by train next week

An estimated 50,000 Network Rail and operating staff from 13 train operating companies are expected take to picket lines across the country in a row over pay and job losses.

The strikes could bring much of the nation’s railways to a halt for the whole week, with only skeleton services running in many areas and disruption having an impact on non-strike days.

The RMT union has called for industrial action over pay, conditions and to oppose compulsory redundancies, such as those being proposed for station staff as some networks look to close down ticket offices.

RMT members working on Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express lines which run through East Croydon, South Croydon and West Croydon, Norwood Junction, Purley and stations in and around Coulsdon will not be going on strike next week.

But these trains will still be affected by the effects of Network Rail strikes.

The three official strike days are Tuesday June 21, Thursday June 23 and Saturday June 25.

A Tube strike will also take place next Tuesday, while members of ASLEF who drive Croydon’s trams are going on strike on June 28 and 29 and July 13 and 14, in a dispute with operators First Group over pay and conditions.

This week, the TSSA, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, announced that its 6,000 members, in managerial and control roles for railway infrastructure, will vote later this month on whether to strike.

No go zone: Tory transport minister Grant Shapps has refused to meet rail unions

The staff are responsible for safety-critical roles including managing the power supply and signalling operations. They would also provide most of the contingency workforce when signallers in the RMT go on strike.

The RMT has been in discussions under the auspices of the Rail Industry Recovery Group, but so far the Tory government’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has refused to meet with the unions.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The union has the same position as it always has – to seek job security with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies; that any changes to structures, working practices or conditions have to be agreed with our union, not imposed; and that our members deserve a negotiated pay increase that addresses the rising cost of living.”

Lynch wrote to Shapps yesterday, saying that it was impossible to reach a negotiated settlement with the train operators and Network Rail while it was his government, and the Treasury under Chancellor Rishi Sunak, which was calling the shots.

Seeking talks: Mick Lynch of the RMT

“It has become obvious in our discussions with employers… that the government is retaining control over the conduct of negotiations with the RMT, and the Treasury in particular is calling the shots.

“In effect in recent weeks the union has been negotiating with the government, but the government have not been in the room. I am now therefore calling for a meeting with you and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.”

Train operators are aiming to run trains on the three strike days between 7.30am and 6.30pm only. On some services, the last train of the day will depart as early as 5pm.

On many lines in south London, there will be no services at all on strike days.

There will also be no cross-London services on the central stretch of the Thameslink route. Gatwick Express trains will run from Victoria and the airport, but with additional stops at Haywards Heath, East Croydon and Clapham Junction.

According to strike timetables issued by operators yesterday:


There will be two semi-fast trains per hour between Victoria and Brighton, complemented by two Thameslink trains per hour between London Bridge and Brighton.

There will also be two trains per hour between each of:

  • Victoria and Epsom via Carshalton (not stopping at Cheam and Ewell East)
  • Victoria and Epsom Downs via West Croydon
  • Victoria and West Croydon via Crystal Palace
  • London Bridge and Tattenham Corner (non-stop London Bridge-East Croydon)

There are no Southern trains to Caterham, East Grinstead, Beckenham Junction, Tulse Hill and Watford Junction. On June 22, 24 and 26 there will be generally a Sunday service with no trains before 7.15am.


Split in two: Thameslink’s south London services will be operating only as far as London Bridge

Thameslink services are split and are not running a cross-London service through Zone 1. Trains to North London and the Home Counties will start and end at St Pancras International/King’s Cross and trains to south London will start and end at London Bridge.

On June 22, 24 and 26 there will be generally a Sunday service with no trains before 7.15am.

Six trains per hour will run between London Bridge and Gatwick Airport, four of which will continue to Three Bridges and two to Brighton.

Gatwick Express

Trains will still run between Victoria, Gatwick and Brighton but these will be Southern services also calling at Clapham Junction, East Croydon and Haywards Heath twice per hour instead. On June 22, 24 and 26 there will be generally a Sunday service with no trains before 7.15am.


Southeastern trains will only run on the following routes:

  • London Bridge to Dartford via Greenwich, Lewisham, Bexleyheath or Sidcup (Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Woolwich Dockyard, Falconwood, Lee and Mottingham closed, with reduced services around two trains per hour at other stations)
  • London Bridge to Orpington (Four trains per hour calling at all stations via Lewisham)
  • St Pancras International to Ebbsfleet (Four trains per hour, two of which continue to Ashford)


SWR’s reduced timetable will run from 07.15am to 6.30pm on the strike days, and will consist of:

  • Four trains per hour in each direction between Waterloo and Windsor via Hounslow*
  • Two semi-fast trains per hour in each direction between Waterloo and Basingstoke*
  • Four trains per hour in each direction between Waterloo and Woking*
  • Two fast trains per hour in each direction between Waterloo and Southampton*

*Trains will not stop at all stations on these routes.

South London’s rail operators say that they have been in touch with schools, colleges and hospitals to notify them of the impact of the strike action.

Even though the RMT is not striking on Govia Thameslink Railway’s services, Angie Doll, the operator’s chief operating officer, said, “We’re sorry to say that people should only travel by rail between June 21 and June 26 if absolutely necessary.

“Unfortunately, there will be very few train services and some routes will be closed altogether on strike days.

“Services will start much later than normal and finish early. All this may lead to very busy trains and possible delays. Passengers should plan ahead and think about travelling at another time.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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