SCOTRAIL has warned it may not be able to run any services when up to 50,000 staff walk out on a three-day strike later this month.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are due to strike on 21st, 23rd and 25th June, in an ongoing UK-wide dispute with Network Rail -which owns the UK's rail tracks, stations and signals – over plans to axe hundreds of critical maintenance jobs.

It's the biggest outbreak of industrial action in the industry in a generation.

It comes as the train drivers union Aslef is due to meet with ScotRail bosses on Thursday as talks resume in a bid to end a separate dispute over pay which has seen services cut by up to half in an emergency timetable due to staff shortages.

The union says Network Rail is planning to cut at least 2,500 safety critical maintenance jobs as part of a £2 billion reduction in spending, including hundreds north of the Border.

Meanwhile, workers have been subject to pay freezes and changes to their terms and conditions.

The RMT union in Scotland says that a strike would not just hit cross-border services but also the running of operations across the country including Scotrail and Caledonian Sleeper services.

That is because those involved are safety-critical workers, including signallers employed by Network Rail who are crucial to keeping trains running.

ScotRail has confirmed that as the strike affects Network Rail staff in Scotland "our services will be affected". The nationalised train operator said: "The impact is expected to be significant with a limited service operating, if at all."

Talks are to be held in a bid to avert strikes by railway workers after the scale of disruption to services by the planned industrial action became clear.

Talks between Network Rail (NR) and the union are expected to be held in the next few days.

Network Rail is also drawing up contingency plans, with the strikes expected to cause disruption to services for six days, from the first walkout on Tuesday June 21 to the day after the third strike.

Fewer than one in five trains are likely to run, and only between 7am and 7pm, probably only on main lines.

No direct talks are planned between the union and train operators, although the RMT said it is open to “meaningful negotiations” to try to resolve the dispute.

The union said it will be the biggest strike on the railways since 1989.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said  he would like to find another way to get what they want other than strike.

He said: "We don't want to cause misery.

"We've got a cost of living crisis and our workers have been working throughout the pandemic and their reward has been a pay freeze.

"I understand the anger of people - but I also understand the anger of our workers.

"We're not holding the public hostage - but we're not going to accept the poverty of our members.

"I would like to find another way other than strike but we've been talking to these companies for two years. 

"You're asking us to be passive in the face of aggression."

HeraldScotland:

“He has already said that the union would  embark on a "sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system".

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said the organisation is “doing everything we can” to avoid the strike action.

“There are two weeks until the first strike is planned. We will use this time to keep talking to our unions and, through compromise and common sense on both sides, we hope to find a solution and avoid the damage that strike action would cause all involved,” he said.

Rail Delivery Group chairman Steve Montgomery said the strikes are “needless and damaging”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said union leaders should “act like adults” and come to a “sensible solution” to the disputes.

He said: “When it comes to these strikes, it is very disappointing what the unions have said, because it’s not just going to cause misery for the travellers, but it’s actually, I think, the wrong outcome for the workers as well.

“Because anyone working in this industry, any industry for that matter, you want it to be sustainable for the long term. It’s not possible to keep giving it the same level of support it got during the pandemic.”

Put to him that the Government could legislate to ward off the strikes, he said: “There are of course options for the Government. And I know that my colleague, the Secretary of State for Transport, will be looking at all options.

“But the most important thing right now would be for the union leaders to get around the table with the industry leaders and just basically act like adults and just to come to a sensible solution.”