Train services will continue to be disrupted on Friday due to a standoff over jobs, wages and conditions – causing travel chaos throughout the week.
Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) embers and 13 train operators at Network Rail went on strike on Tuesday and Thursday, with a third walkout planned for Saturday.
The disruption will continue on Friday as well, with only 60% of trains running, mainly due to delay in starting services as signal and control room staff will not turn up for overnight shifts.
Members of the Asleaf, a driver union on Greater Anglia, walked out on Thursday in a separate dispute over pay.
The Transport Salaried Workers Union is calling on hundreds of its members in Network Rail and several train companies to go on strike.
RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch said: “Our members are leading the way in standing up for all the working people trying to get a pay hike and some job security.
“Workers in a modern economy should be fairly rewarded for their work, should enjoy good conditions and have peace of mind that their jobs will not be taken away from them.
“Grant Shapps (the transportation secretary) needs to be in the room or out of the way so that we can negotiate with these companies, with whom we’ve done dozens of deals before.
“We cannot accept that thousands of railway workers are being thrown on scrap after being praised as heroes during COVID.
“RMT will continue its industrial operation till an agreement is reached.”
Talks have taken place over a week, but no success is expected.
Speaking at the BBC’s Question Hour, Mr Lynch said: “Companies have told me face-to-face that they can obtain mandatory redundancy guarantees”, but added that they are “not being allowed”.
“They won’t write it down on a piece of paper and give it to us as a commitment,” he said, to which Conservative MP Rachel McLean replied: “No organization can guarantee that”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson dubbed the attacks a “terrible idea” and insisted there was “no point” that the railways are “so economic” that ticket prices are prohibitive for passengers.
He also defended a cut in real wages of public sector employees, while giving pensioners a hike in line with rising inflation.
Speaking to reporters traveling with him in Rwanda, he said: “We’ve got to run the railways economically to the great benefit of railway workers and their families.
“There is no point in having a railway system in this country which is so economic that you have to raise ticket prices and you have to take more and more people away from the railways.
“You can’t go with practices like running time, with ticket offices that sell very few tickets. You need to modernize. ,
Downing Street has said statutory instruments (SI) for changes to the law to enable businesses to supply skilled agency workers to address staff shortages during industrial action will be put in place on Friday and Monday.