Train strikes: Disruption set to cost hospitality £540m and have ‘catastrophic’ impact on night economy
This week’s rail and tube strikes are set to cost the hospitality sector £540m, as the nighttime economy will suffer a “catastrophic impact”.
Trade union action on the transport network this week will “set back the recovery of our high streets and deter people from going out in the evening”, leading to hundreds of million in lost income.
Hospitality UK warned the disruption is estimated to lead to a 20 per cent drop in sales during a typical June week, which has a rough take-in on £2.75bn, equating to £540m.
This comes as the largest bout of industrial action in nearly 30 years is set to take place, with members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union rail workers walk out on 21, 23 and 25 June.
Transport for London (TfL) has already urged Londoners to avoid travelling on 21 June as more than 40,000 workers are set to walk out in a separate tube and rail strike, as part of two separate disputes involving Network Rail’s attempt to axe 2,500 maintenance jobs and a London Underground clash over pensions, job losses and pay.
UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls criticised the strike plans over pay and conditions, saying they “further jeopardise hospitality businesses working hard to rebuild following the pandemic, in the face of rising costs and a fall in consumer confidence.”
The action would “will further set back the recovery of our high streets and will also deter people from going out in the evening”.
“Furthermore, as we come into the crucial summer months, disruption on the rail network will discourage both UK and international tourism – we are already hearing reports from Scotland of cancelled hotel bookings due to the dispute between Aslef and Scotrail there.”
She also raised the alarm about its impact “especially women and vulnerable people who may rely on trains to get them home and feel safe late at night.”
With strikes beginning just after midnight, there was also harsh criticism from the Nighttime Industries Trade Association,. Its chief executive Michael Kill, bemoaned train services being reduced to 20 per cent on strike days, with services ending at 6.30pm.
He said it “will have a catastrophic impact on trade. This will limit access to cities, events and festivals across the UK, with mounting concerns over staff and public safety.”
He said the strikes “will leave many stranded at night, compromising safety with very few alternative transport services available.”
This comes after the transport secretary Grant Shapps failed in his bid to avert the strike, after talks with unions and train operators failed.
Strike action is set to continue for months, with rail bosses saying they are now preparing for a war of “attrition”.