Page last updated at 20:27 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:27 UK

Rail strike expected to go ahead

National Express East Anglia
The train drivers' union has set up a hardship fund

Rail travellers appear set for more disruption as a planned two-day strike by National Express East Anglia staff is expected to go ahead, unions said.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) and the train drivers' union Aslef have already staged two 48-hour strikes.

The next strike in the row over pay is due to begin at midnight on Thursday.

It will hit services in Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire and those to and from London Liverpool Street.

Routes affected include the Stansted Express service linking the Essex airport with London.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and train drivers' union Aslef held negotiation talks with the National Express East Anglia franchise on Tuesday.

All the pressure is now on National Express East Anglia to face up to the reality of the rock solid support for the strike action
RMT general secretary Bob Crow

The unions are locked in dispute with the franchise over pay and conditions and are due to walk out for the third 48-hour strike at 0001 BST on Thursday.

Unless the deadlock is broken, those taking action will be joined by members of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "All the pressure is now on National Express East Anglia to face up to the reality of the rock solid support for the strike action amongst their work force."

He said the employer had to "come forward with an offer that tackles the pay and conditions issues at the heart of this dispute".

'Hopeful of agreement'

A spokesman for the rail franchise said all sides agreed to meet on Wednesday for further talks at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

A fourth walkout is due to take place on 20 and 21 August if talks fail.

Members of the RMT who work for Arriva franchise CrossCountry are staging a month-long ban on overtime and non-rostered Sunday working.

On Tuesday, engineering work and a lack of staff caused disruption to rail services between Cardiff and Nottingham, and Birmingham and Stansted.

Buses replaced trains between the UK's second city and the airport, adding an hour to the normal journey time.

Talks to settle the dispute broke up on Friday and will be reconvened on Wednesday.

A spokesman for CrossCountry said it was hopeful of coming to an "amicable agreement".

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