Roadworks Suspended after Rail Strike Threat
Roadworks are being suspended for almost a week because of fears that a threatened national rail strike will clog up the country’s motorways and other routes.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association at Network Rail are set to stage a 24-hour walkout from 5pm on Bank Holiday Monday in a row over pay. Talks are being held at the conciliation service Acas in a bid to resolve the dispute, but Highways England has announced an extension to the removal of roadworks in case the action goes ahead.
Travellers are expected to switch from rail to road over the weekend if there is a strike, leading to much heavier traffic than normal for a bank holiday weekend.
Roadworks are usually reinstated on the Tuesday after a bank holiday break, but Highways England is not planning to reinstate roadworks until 6am on Thursday May 28. Amost 400 lane-miles of roadworks on motorways and A roads will be removed or suspended by 6am on Friday 22.
Simon Sheldon-Wilson, director of customer operations at Highways England, said: “We are working with Network Rail and others to manage the impact of any industrial action on our customers.
“Motorways and major routes are likely to be even busier than usual if the planned industrial action goes ahead as travellers switch from rail to roads. We anticipate that customers may start noticing a difference in traffic during Friday afternoon and evening, when there could be extra journeys on our roads as the result of the planned rail action. During and immediately after the bank holiday we will be doing everything possible to manage traffic, such as removing temporary road works where practical. We’ll have extra traffic officer patrols and recovery vehicles on standby, and we’ll keep customers informed with real-time travel information online and via variable message signs.”
Highways England aims to complete or lift 155 sets of roadworks by Friday, leaving 96.9% of its 9,534 lane-miles free of roadworks.
Around 267 lane-miles of roadworks will be completed at 105 locations before the bank holiday, while 50 sets of roadworks and lane restrictions will be removed across 127 lane-miles of carriageway. Lane restrictions or temporary speed limits will remain at 63 locations.
Rail union members have rejected a four-year deal worth £500 this year and three years of increases matching RPI inflation, as well as a no-compulsory-redundancy commitment to December 2016.