Network Rail launches legal action to prevent rail strike

Network Rail has launched legal action in a bid to avert planned strikes from 6th April by signallers and maintenance staff in a row over job cuts and work changes.

The Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) are currently planning a four-day walkout from next Tuesday, 6 April.

As peace talks were adjourned on Tuesday 30th March, Network Rail said it had served legal papers on the RMT over the validity of the signallers’ strike ballot and was seeking a High Court ruling.

For its part, the RMT said the vote was above board and it would mount a robust defence.

Network Rail, the RMT and the TSSA have been in discussions at Acas to try to avert next week’s strike.

An RMT spokesman said: "We have spent two days in talks making some significant progress, only to find the progress has been sabotaged by a threat of Network Rail to use anti-trade union laws to drag us into court tomorrow."

In a statement Network Rail said it had a "responsibility to all our passengers and freight users, and to the country as a whole, to do everything we can to avert a strike."

It said the legal papers served on the RMT highlighted scores of discrepancies and inaccuracies in the signallers’ ballot and would be raised at a High Court hearing on Wednesday.

If the walkout goes ahead, it would be the first national rail strike since 1994.

It is estimated one in five trains could be affected on average but that the worst-hit routes could be the Southern commuter lines into London Victoria, South West trains into Waterloo, National Express East Anglia and Stansted Express trains into Liverpool Street and Southern and South Eastern trains to London Bridge, where only 10% of normal services could be in operation.

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