London businesses have called on unions, operators and the government to find a solution to the ongoing railway strikes “and avert the economic damage” they will cause.
“The week-long rail disruption in June caused footfall in the capital to drop by up to a quarter compared to the previous week,” Ruth Duston – chief executive of London HQ, an alliance of four London Business Improvement Districts – told City A.M.
“But it’s businesses that bear the brunt of industrial action, as commuters were the largest group kept away from the capital during the strikes.”
For bars in city centres, June’s railway strikes were a “real inconvenience” to recovering sales, Revolution Bars’ Pitcher told City A.M.
“We would urge all parties to come to an agreement as soon as they can,” he said. “The nation as a whole has been through a torrid couple of years and then the thought of a protracted rail strike is almost unthinkable when people just want to get back out there and start living their lives.”
Members of the union RMT working at Network Rail and 14 other operators announced last week that they will walk out on Wednesday in the first of a three-day strike over job cuts and salaries.
Platform and ticketing staff at Avanti West Coast will also join the industrial action, while train drivers will take the streets on Saturday.
Network Rail warned that around 20 per cent of services would run on Wednesday, with no trains in some parts of the country.
Passengers were told to avoid travelling by train and to check when the last service will depart if obliged to get around.
The strike was lambasted by both industry stakeholders and the government.
The Department for Transport (DfT) called the strike “a cynically timed attempt to derail the start of the Commonwealth Games”, while the Rail Delivery Group said it was disappointed by the decision.
Just like in June, Wednesday’s strike will create significant disruption across the UK and London.
Transport for London (TfL) told commuters to expect turmoil on the District, Bakerloo and Elizabeth lines, as they share some sections of the track with Network Rail. Overground services could also be disrupted for the same reason.
Meanwhile, RAC’s Rod Dennis said the walk out “will inevitably force more people on the roads,” as Uber said it was expecting an increase in demand.
“We are informing drivers of the expected increase in demand to help ensure there are enough cars out on the road,” they said.