Train drivers could be offered an extra £2,000 a year as part of a new pay boost to end the chaos of winter strikes, while Britain braces for one of its biggest ever rail strikes tomorrow. ready to do, with only one service out of ten running.

Most unions are expected to reject the new package, which would see drivers take an average wage of £59,000 worth four per cent over two years.

However, rail firms hope that if one of the largest unions – Aslef – can be persuaded to accept the revised pay offer, it could put pressure on RMT leader Mick Lynch to agree the deal. Yes, reports The Sun.

The proposal could be formally put to Aslef as early as next week.

In what has been dubbed ‘Tragic Thursday’, around 12,500 train drivers from 15 companies will walk off their shifts tomorrow, continuing the New Year disruption.

RMT boss Mick Lynch (centre) has accused ministers of ‘undermining efforts to get a deal’ and said a deal was ‘torpedoed’ last month.

21,000 Aslef workers will walk out in a mass strike tomorrow on what has been dubbed 'Sad Thursday' - less than ten per cent of train services running

21,000 Aslef workers will walk out in a mass strike tomorrow on what has been dubbed ‘Sad Thursday’ – less than ten per cent of train services running

Around 40,000 RMT railway employees left work yesterday in the first of two 48-hour strikes this week.

Just one in ten train services will run on ‘Sad Thursday’, leaving commuters facing the worst one-day strike in a working week in decades.

Tomorrow’s strike is further complicated by a walkout by Aslef’s 21,000 workers, in addition to ongoing strike action by the RMT on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week – with some drivers expected to cross the picket line.

Insiders say it is the biggest disruption for passengers since British Rail, The Telegraph reports.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper insisted union leaders were ‘not a bottomless pit of taxpayer money’.

He said: ‘Taxpayers have invested heavily in the rail industry over the last few years, which was hit hard by the pandemic when people were not traveling.

Transport secretary Mark Harper insisted union leaders were 'not a bottomless pit of taxpayer money'

Transport secretary Mark Harper insisted union leaders were ‘not a bottomless pit of taxpayer money’

‘I think you have to have a proposal that is fair to the people who work in the industry, but is also fair to the taxpayer who is picking up the tab.’

The Center for Economics and Business Research says this week’s strike will cost the economy £330 million, bringing the total cost of industrial action since last July to £1.3 billion.

Network Rail is said to have a skeleton team of casual signal workers on strike days, allowing RMTs to operate one in five services on previous strike days.

But with very few casual drivers available, the timetable is reduced even further. There will be no train service to south-west England beyond Plymouth, while Scottish journeys will stop 18 miles north of Edinburgh.

Aberdeen, Penzance and Gloucester are among the stations to be left without any service this week.

Passengers have been warned to avoid rail travel for the first week of 2023.

RMT boss Mick Lynch has accused ministers of ‘undermining efforts to get a deal’ and said a deal was ‘torpedoed’ last month.

Mr Lynch yesterday dragged out the prospect of a walkout until May, when the RMT’s current strike mandate expires, as their 40,000 members walk out for the first of two 48-hour strikes this week.

But he also said a deal was possible within the ‘next few days’, while Network Rail’s chief negotiator said a deal was potentially within ‘touching distance’.

New details have emerged showing the offer on the table for lower pay among Mr Lynch’s members is up 14 per cent over two years – 2.5 per cent more than most nurses are offered.

Aslef’s mandate lasts until the end of June, meaning the rail strikes will continue until the separate RMT disputes are resolved.

A source close to the talks said: ‘The minister is ready for a fight with Aslef.’

It came on a day business chiefs hit out at the RMT yesterday for turning city centers into ‘ghost towns’ on the day workers should have returned after the festive period.

Many people opted to work from home instead in a fresh blow to firms suffering from low footfall during the RMT’s pre-Christmas strike.

Passenger numbers yesterday at 20 major stations managed by Network Rail, such as London Waterloo, Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street, were at their lowest on Tuesday for five weeks.

Ministers are preparing to do battle with the train drivers' union, meaning rail strikes could continue until the summer (Pictured: Striking rail workers and RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (C) part in a picket line at Euston station on 13 December) Let's say, 2022 in London)

Ministers are preparing to do battle with the train drivers’ union, meaning rail strikes could continue until the summer (Pictured: Striking rail workers and RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (C) part in a picket line at Euston station on 13 December) Let’s say, 2022 in London)

UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said strikes have cost the industry £2.5bn since June (Picture: King's Cross in London during strike action by Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) members in December passenger at the station)

UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said strikes have cost the industry £2.5bn since June (Picture: King’s Cross in London during strike action by Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) members in December passenger at the station)

The January strike is in full swing on this month's calendar pages from various unions

The January strike is in full swing on this month’s calendar pages from various unions

Just 131,613 people passed through between 5 am and 11.30 am, compared to 141,737 on 27 December, when the RMT was on strike in the morning.

Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce, told the BBC: ‘Businesses – especially retail but also hospitality – are not going to get the customers they need in the first week of the year after a disappointing end to last year. ,

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, said the industry had lost £2.5 billion since June due to strikes.

RMT workers rejected the latest pay rise of 9 per cent in two years in a referendum.

But Network Rail argues that the union advised members to reject it and gave them false grounds for doing so.

For example, union bosses told members that they would be forced into new contracts that reduce overtime rates and make them worse off. But the contracts will only apply to new starters, with existing employees given the option of whether to switch.

The new contracts will actually be worth more in the long run because they boost base pay and pension outcomes.

An insider said: ‘The other ‘misunderstanding’ is the bachelor nature of the deal. The RMT presented this as 9 per cent straight over two years during the referendum. it. For low wage earners it is worth up to 14 per cent and for most of our maintenance workforce it is actually worth more than 10 per cent.’

Mr Lynch told Sky News: ‘The Network Rail offer was rejected by our members because of the conditions… there has to be an agreement on pay improvements and our conditions and job security. All that can be achieved in the next few days.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper urged unions to ‘get off the picket line and get back to the negotiating table’.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: ‘The trade unions have decided they want to go on strike this week, which is extremely pointless, damages the rail industry, damages the interests of the people who work in it .

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