Strike news latest updates: Christmas train disruption as drivers told ‘avoid roads until 7pm’

Passengers expected to face ‘two hour queues’ at Gatwick amid strikes, says airport boss

Britons have been warned of train disruption ahead of a strike tomorrow as millions embark on Christmas getaway journeys, with motorists told to avoid the roads until 7pm.

The RAC, which expects 7.9 million leisure journeys to be made across the UK on Friday and Christmas Eve combined, published the alert for a stretch of the M25.

The 23rd of December is typically the busiest day for rail travellers ahead of the Christmas holiday, with 27 December the busiest for post-Christmas travel.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union are set to stage another round of industrial action tomorrow in an ongoing row over pay and conditions,

Earlier, a separate union warned that strikes by Border Force staff could last for up to six months as they staged the first of several days of action.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, urged ministers to “get around the negotiating table” and make a better pay offer.

“Our strike mandate lasts right up until May,” he told the BBC earlier this morning. “We will be supporting this action up to May and we would re-ballot again if we have to.”

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Andy Burnham calls for London-style transport for Manchester

Andy Burnham said he wants a London-style integrated transport system for Greater Manchester as he announced the award of the first new bus franchises in the region.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester said discussions were on-going with government as part of a further deal on devolution, more powers transferred from Whitehall to regions, about integrating overland train services with bus, trams and bikes.

It would create a “tap in tap out” system for any of the 2.5 million people in the Greater Manchester region using public transport.

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 15:21

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Christmas Day snow warning for Scotland as rain lashes rest of Britain

A Christmas Day snow warning has been issued for large parts of Scotland, with up to 10cm forecast for higher ground as gale force winds bring the risk of drifting and blizzards.

Frequent blustery snow showers are likely to cause some travel disruption to higher routes, the Met Office said in a yellow weather warning on Friday.

My colleague Alastair Jamieson reports:

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 14:45

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Flooding on M25 causes 10-mile queue of traffic

Flooding on the M25 is ruining the Christmas getaway for thousands of people, as congestion worsens across the UK.

National Highways said a 10-mile queue built up due to the M25 being closed from junction 11 (Woking) to junction 12 (the M3) while standing water is cleared.

Two out of four lanes were later reopened.

Many drivers are battling a band of heavy rain which is moving north from southern England and Wales to southern Scotland and Northern Ireland throughout the day.

Junction four of the M20 westbound in Kent was closed for several hours on Friday morning after a serious crash on Thursday.

Vehicles were being diverted on to exit and entry slip roads, causing three miles of congestion and delays of at least 45 minutes.

The AA reported “severe congestion” on several motorway stretches on Friday, and said industrial action on the railways has added to the number of vehicles on the roads.

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 14:30

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‘Do not travel unless your journey is essential’

“Do not travel unless your journey is essential”: that is the warning from the rail industry to people hoping to catch a train on Christmas Eve, ahead of the next RMT national strike by Network Rail staff beginning at 6pm on 24 December, Simon Calder, our travel correspondent, reports.

On East Midlands Railways’ main line linking London with Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, the last northbound train for four days will depart at 7.35pm this evening. A separate strike by members of the Unite union means all later trains are cancelled, along with the entire schedule on Christmas Eve.

Elsewhere, train operators are racing to get rolling stock and staff back to depots before the walk-out begins. Last trains from many locations are in the morning, with all services ending by mid-afternoon.

(Simon Calder)

The strike has wiped out all the limited Boxing Day services, including all 43 planned Eurostar services linking London with Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

When the RMT strike ends at 6am on Tuesday 27 December. Services will slowly resume, though key operators will continue to run a sharply reduced schedule. Last trains on South Western Railway from the UK’s busiest station, London Waterloo, are at around 9.30pm until the second week of January.

No trains will run at all to and from London Liverpool Street due to planned engineering works through to the New Year – when national rail strikes resume on 3 January.

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 14:15

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Unions warn strikes could last six months as Rishi Sunak grilled: ‘Where have you been?’

Unprecedented travel chaos across the country could continue for at least another six months unless the government makes workers an improved pay offer, unions have warned.

Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS union, which represents striking Border Force staff, also predicted there would be a “huge escalation” in other industrial action next month unless ministers enter into negotiations.

The rail dispute will also continue in the new year unless ministers act, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said.

Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin reports:

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 14:00

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All the rail strike dates confirmed for January 2023

Rail workers have already walked out a number of times this year and more strikes are planned for next year.

Here, my colleague Joe Sommerlad looks specifically at the dates when these strikes will take place.

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 13:40

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ICYMI: The Tories are trying, but there is no rage to be found for strikers

There is not much by way of precedent for how the right-wing mob behave in the years after the tyres have exploded but the car’s not come to a stop, writes Tom Peck.

Read Tom’s full piece here:

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 13:20

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Who is striking and when?

As we’ve been reporting, a number of public sector organisations are striking in a row over pay and conditions.

Border Force and postal workers walked out today and join nurses and rail workers in withdrawing their labour.

More strikes are planned for the remainder of the month.

My colleague Joe Sommerlad takes a look at who is striking and when:

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 13:00

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Ambulance staff strike called off

The GMB union has called off a strike of ambulance workers on 28 December so the public can “enjoy Christmas without the additional anxiety”.

They have instead announced a new strike on 11 January, the same day that ambulance workers who are members of the Unison union will also stage a walkout.

My colleague Holly Bancroft has the story:

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 12:45

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Midday update: Fears of travel chaos at airprots unfounded

Fears that passengers at six British airports could be waiting for hours for passport control have proved unfounded on the first day of the strike by UK Border Force staff, Simon Calder, our travel correspondent, reports.

At Heathrow, the UK’s busiest hub, nearly 30,000 passengers have passed through the border during the morning. Queuing times were reported by one official as “virtually at zero”.

Strikes: Simon Calder reports from Gatwick Airport amid Border Force mass walkout

Passengers arriving at Gatwick are also reporting a smooth process through the border. Ash Tilbury reported: “No queue at LGW at all. Landed at 11:15 and we’re just waiting for luggage which I watched being unloaded as soon as the plane stopped.”

A spokesperson for Birmingham airport told The Independent: “This morning we had UK Border Force staff and RAF personnel jointly running our customs and immigration process.

(Ash Tilbury)

“It ran smoothly with maximum wait times of 18 minutes for passengers arriving from, for instance, Bridgetown, Barbados, during our morning travel peak.”

Sneha Mistri, a passenger arriving at the West Midlands airport, said: “Just landed at Birmingham from Madrid. Through the automatic gates in passport control in less than five minutes.”

At Manchester, Paul Simon tweeted: “Landed on EK17 Dubai-Manchester at 11:35. Royal Navy checked passports luggage collected and on the M56 by 12:10.”

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 12:28

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