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Strikes set to disrupt services on Elizabeth Line

The Elizabeth Line will be disrupted by strike action (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Elizabeth Line will be disrupted by strike action (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Rail services on London’s new Elizabeth Line will be disrupted on Thursday because of a strike over pay and pensions.

Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and Prospect will walk out for the day, followed by other forms of industrial action until next month.

Transport for London (TfL) warned customers to expect travel disruption, saying it was doing everything it could to reduce the impact of the strike and was working with operator MTR-Elizabeth line to run as many services as possible.

There will be no service throughout the day in the central section of the line between Abbey Wood and Paddington.

The Elizabeth line will operate as separate railways on the east and west of the line, but passengers were warned there may be short-notice alterations or cancellations.

In the east, between Shenfield and Liverpool Street mainline station, the Elizabeth line will operate a Saturday service of eight trains per hour, with three extra services per hour during the morning and evening peak.

In the west there will be limited services, with two trains per hour running from Paddington to Reading, two trains per hour running from Paddington to Maidenhead, two trains per hour running from Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 4 and no services running to Heathrow Terminal 5.

TfL said it has made a two-year offer of a 4% pay increase for 2022 and 4.4% increase in 2023, describing it as “fair.”

Howard Smith, TfL’s Director of the Elizabeth line, said: “Strikes are bad news for everyone, and we urge the TSSA and Prospect to continue to work with us to avoid industrial action.

“These strikes will have a detrimental effect during a time where we are encouraging customers back on to trains into central London, in which the Elizabeth line has played a leading role.”

The strike is the first industrial action on the line since it opened last May.

Unions say they are also in dispute over pensions.

TSSA members voted by nine to one in favour of strike action in a ballot last year after talks failed at the arbitration service, Acas.

Talks have taken place this week but the strike, as well as action short of a strike, will go ahead.

TSSA members work in roles including traffic managers, service and infrastructure, and incident response manager grades.

TSSA Organiser, Mel Taylor said: “Our members are rightly taking this action because they are not prepared to be pushed around on pay and pensions.

“We know workers at Rail for London Infrastructure (RfLI) are being paid significantly less than equivalent colleagues across the TfL network and that is simply not acceptable.

“Our members have the power to bring the Elizabeth Line to a standstill and that is exactly what will happen as a result of this strike and the lack of a serious offer from TfL.

“The company needs to understand we are serious. Our members are determined to get the fair deal they deserve having not seen an annual pay increase for almost three years. An improved offer which addresses the scandalous disparity in pay is the way to resolve this dispute.”

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect, said: “The Elizabeth Line is Britain’s best performing railway yet its workers are being treated significantly worse than equivalent workers on the rest of London’s network. This year’s pay increase is significantly lower than London Underground, and that’s on top of already lower pay rates.

“Despite continuing talks there has been no substantive movement from the employer so our members have been left with no choice but to strike.

“The Elizabeth Line is bringing in substantial revenue so there is no reason why there can’t be some movement on pay.”