Rail strikes in Sussex: MP Mims Davies says walkouts should be 'last resort'

Mid Sussex’s MP has said ‘strikes should always be a last resort’ and called for more discussions to avert any further industrial action disrupting the country’s railways.

Thousands of RMT members voted to walk out across Network Rail and train operating companies on Tuesday, today (Thursday June 23) and Saturday (June 25) in a row over pay and potential job losses.

Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Southern and Thameslink trains, was one of the few companies where its employees did not back a strike. However since it relies on Network Rail signallers and engineers to run its network, its services have also been severely disrupted.

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Mims Davies, MP for Mid Sussex, said: “Mid Sussex travelling constituents and their families, myself included, are greatly impacted by the rail strikes this week. Essential travel for work, school and college including examinations, medical appointments and family travel are all being impacted and this unfairly punishes the travelling public. I have met this week with GTR/Southern and joined the daily meetings cross Government on managing the wide ranging impacts. The local GTR/Southern teams are working ‘short of a strike’ but the knock on effect of other providers is causing headaches for Mid Sussex travellers.

Three days of rail strikes are taking place this week (Pic by Jon Rigby)

“We have stepped in across Covid to support the railways with £16 billion of support, that equates to £600 per household. Strikes should always be the absolute last resort and I urge discussions to continue to avert any further action.

“Ticket sales are 25 per cent fewer post Covid and as the ability to work from home with technology continues to impact long term potential passenger numbers there are therefore few incentives during this period of uncertainty to come back to five days a week of travelling on the railways.”

Mick Lynch RMT general secretary said: "Until the government unshackle Network Rail and the train operating companies, it is not going to be possible for a negotiated settlement to be agreed.

"We will continue with our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated settlement that delivers job security and a pay rise for our members that deals with the escalating cost of living crisis."