Rail strikes will increase traffic, AA warns

Rail strikes will increase traffic, AA warns

Drivers are being warned to expect a spike in traffic on the roads as this week’s strikes bring much of Britain’s rail network to a halt.

The AA believes that the roads most affected are likely to be the main arteries of the highways, in addition to rural and suburban areas.

And while rail strikes only occur on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, many passengers must “give up trains for the whole week”.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said an impact on the roads was “unavoidable”, and the shutdowns mean it’s no wonder so many Brits are reliant on their vehicles.

He added: “The city’s main routes, as well as those serving home counties, are likely to see some of the biggest increases in traffic volumes, as even if the rail lines are still open, there will be significantly fewer trains running.”

Scotland and Wales are expected to be hit hard during the industrial action as most rail lines will be closed.

The M74, M8 and A9 in Scotland and the M4, A55, A5 and A483 in Wales can experience especially severe traffic.

And with Glastonbury and the Goodwood Festival of Speed ​​slated to take place, local drivers are being urged to give these areas a “comprehensive space” too.

To make matters worse, train services in the days between strikes are also likely to be affected – further adding to the uncertainty for passengers.

Government accused of ‘inflaming’ tensions

With less than 48 hours to go before the biggest rail strike in decades, tensions between the government and unions are running high.

Union leaders accused the ministers of “inflaming” the situation by threatening to “revoke” workers’ legal rights.

TUC Secretary General Frances O’Grady said: “The government has the power to help end this dispute, but instead of working in good faith to find a negotiated settlement, the ministers are inflaming tensions and trying to playing worker against worker”.

She said the Westminster government is planning to change the law so employers can recruit temporary workers during industrial action.

“Instead of threatening to do a P&O on these workers and rip up their rights, ministers should rally people around the table to help reach a fair deal,” added O’Grady.

The union leader argued that railway workers “have no other choice” – and it is “an insult” to ask the hardest-hit workers such as suppliers and cleaners “to take another pay cut in real terms when railway companies have received £500m in profits during the pandemic”.

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O’Grady concluded: “If these cuts happen, thousands of critical safety and frontline jobs will be lost, with train services also at risk.

“We need a better vision for the future of rail transport than passengers crammed into unsafe trains like sardines.”

Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge program on Sunday, RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch predicted that Britain could see a summer of discontent – with strikes spreading to other sectors.

“People can’t take it anymore,” he said – while stressing that the union “doesn’t want to be the cause of disruption in people’s lives.”

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News that the RMT was “pointing to this strike action” – and likened the exit to a “huge act of self-harm”.

Teachers unions have warned they could be close to voting for a strike if pay increases for 2022/23 “fall short of demands”.

Railway is ‘a blow’ to struggling retailers

Businesses across the country are also hoping to feel the brunt of the strikes – and the London Underground will also be involved in Tuesday’s strike.

Springboard’s forecasts suggest traffic is expected to drop 9.3% across all retail destinations this week.

This comes as retailers grapple with rising costs and staff shortages — and trying to make the most of the first no-holds-barred summer since 2019.

The New West End Company, which represents 600 shops, restaurants and hotels in central London, said: “With international visitor numbers still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, it is frustrating to see further disruptions that will deter much-needed domestic visitors. “

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