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Network Rail to begin formal process to lay off up to 1,800 staff

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Network Rail will start the formal process to lay off up to 1,800 staff at the end of the month, it has told the RMT, as the first day of the biggest rail strikes in 30 years halted most train services and forced travellers on to congested roads.Talks were expected to restart on Wednesday to find a settlement to a dispute that saw 40,000 rail staff from Network Rail and 13 train operators walk out for 24 hours on Tuesday.London transport was doubly hit, with another RMT strike closing most of the Underground network, leaving buses taking the strain on gridlocked roads.Most of Wales, Scotland, northern and coastal England were left without trains.

Many of the functioning train services and stations were quiet as passengers heeded advice to avoid travel if possible. Two more 24-hour walkouts are due on Thursday and Saturday.While sources close to the talks said there was positive movement on Monday, hopes of a breakthrough this week remained slim, after the union rejected offers worth 3% from the industry.Network Rail has ratcheted up the pressure by giving notice that it will start formal consultations from 1 July on modernisation plans to help save more than £100m a year, incorporating compulsory redundancies if necessary.In a letter handed to the RMT leadership on Monday night, Network Rail said it “cannot delay any longer” on plans to reform its maintenance regimes, though it would “much prefer to implement them with your agreement and cooperation”.It said that the changes would mean the need for maintenance staff was “likely to reduce”, and so Network Rail would start formal redundancy consultations under section 188 of the labour relations act – adding that it hoped enough staff would volunteer for redundancy to

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