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Train strikes: Minister hopes Christmas walkouts could be stopped

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The new transport secretary has stated he hopes the rail dispute could be solved earlier than Christmas with “realism” from each commerce unions and rail employers.

However, Mark Harper stated that pay rises that match the surging price of living is not going to be potential because of the UK’s “economic circumstances”.

It got here as he agreed to assist unions to attempt to reach a take care of prepare companies forward of contemporary strikes subsequent month.

The RMT union stated a gathering with Mr Harper had been “positive”.

Mr Harper’s two predecessors had refused to get entangled within the dispute, though the transport secretary stated it was not his function to do the “detailed negotiations”.

“I do accept I have a role in this process, which is to try to encourage the two sides to come to an agreement and also to make sure… the process moves along as quickly as we can,” he informed the BBC.

Passengers have been informed to anticipate main disruption after the RMT stated it could stage 4 48-hour strikes subsequent month in a dispute over job safety, pay and circumstances.

Some 40,000 staff will stroll out on 13-14 and 16-17 December, and 3-Four and 6-7 January, with delays and cancellations anticipated on the times across the strikes as nicely.

The RMT, which has staged eight strikes since June, claims rail working firms and Network Rail – which manages the observe – should not negotiating in good religion.

But Mr Harper has now agreed to assist each side come again to the desk and can write to RMT boss Mick Lynch setting out the phrases underneath which talks can happen.

Mr Harper stated there was a “shared agreement” that the dispute had gone on for too lengthy, however wouldn’t decide to providing extra authorities cash to assist resolve the dispute.

Instead he maintained that trade reform was wanted to ship the financial savings which might allow a “reasonable pay rise” for workers.

He added: “Being realistic, [that pay rise] is not going to match the level of inflation, I think people need to understand that and there needs to be some realism in this process.

“But to be honest I believe there’s realism on this course of from each the commerce unions and employers, and I hope we will resolve the dispute as quick as we will earlier than Christmas.”

Inflation – the rate at which prices rise – is currently at a 41-year high of 11.1% as the war in Ukraine drives up energy and food prices.

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Mr Lynch told reporters his meeting with the new transport secretary was “constructive within the sense we’ve removed the bellicose nonsense we had from [former transport secretary] Grant Shapps and his cohort in his period and we’re now beginning to get a dialogue”.

He added: “You’ve heard [Mr Harper] say he will be a facilitator in the direction of a settlement or decision of the dispute. And we have stated it is no good us having these heat phrases, we have had them from his [immediate] predecessor Anne-Marie Trevelyan, however nothing truly occurred.”

He added the dispute now wanted “tempo” to be resolved.

“I’m certain the travelling public and the companies across the nation and the economic system, need to see this dispute settled in a correct means.”

Next month’s walkouts are expected to hit people travelling for Christmas, with the pub industry warning it could ruin their busiest week of the year.

The strikes will affect people travelling to see comedian Peter Kay’s comeback shows in London and Birmingham on 16 and 17 December, as well as singer Paolo Nutini’s gigs in Glasgow on 13, 14 and 16 December.

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