Rail freight contingency plans for national rail strikes

During this week’s UK national rail strikes, essential rail freight will run during the day and will be given priority over passenger services. Such freight includes biomass for energy companies to keep the UK power network in operation.

The UK national rail strikes are on the 21st, 23rd and 25th June and are the largest rail strikes in more than 30 years as the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union fights over staff cuts, pay and pensions.

Industry bosses warned that the strike is “as bad as it gets” for rail freight and that supply chains will be impacted despite the contingency plans in place.

To mitigate the worst of the impact of the strikes, freight trains will take priority over passenger trains, as just 20% of services will operate. In addition rail freight will operate in the daytime and not at night when it usually runs.

Jake Kelly, Network Operations Director at Network Rail, said: “We are working nonstop to keep nationally important freight flows – including supermarket supplies and fuel – moving during strike action.”

Even with contingency plans in place, the industry still expects serious impacts to supply chains. Rail Freight Group Director General, Maggie Simpson OBE, said: “The pattern of proposed strike action is about as bad as it gets for rail freight, with disruption likely across the entire week and into the weekend.

“Even with the plans that are in place, supply chains will be impacted, and it is really damaging to customer confidence in rail, and to future growth.”

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