U.K.  Commuters Endure More Rail Misery

LONDON -- Thousands of rail users are enduring a second day of travel misery due to strikes by train guards in a row over pay, BBC News reports.

Arriva Trains Northern has cancelled most of its services for the second successive day as members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union complete their 48-hour walkout.

There are fears the industrial unrest on the railways is set to spread to other regions in a series of unrelated disputes over pay.

More railway workers are to be balloted over strike action - at Silverlink trains, operating between London and the Midlands; at the Docklands Light Railway in London; and at Scotrail.

The Arriva strikes are estimated by one analyst to be costing the economy 7m a day, as 90% of the company's services were cancelled on Thursday.

Most of Arriva Trains Northern's 1,600 services were cancelled again on Friday, forcing rail commuters to use bus and car to get to work.

A handful of train services around Leeds, Newcastle, Hull, Doncaster and other areas were expected to run despite the strike.

The company has replaced about 10% of its train services with buses in recent months because of a shortage of train drivers, and they were running normally on Thursday.

Arriva insists it offered drivers and guards the same pay rise.

The offer would raise the basic pay of conductors from 15,500 to 16,763 with a further 5% possible from productivity gains.

But the RMT union claims the cause of the dispute is a "massive" difference between wage rates in other areas.

Offer rejected

Further talks between the two sides are planned for next week in a bid to head off a second 48-hour strike due on 5 and 6 February.

London faces potentially huge disruption on Silverlink, the Tube, DLR and South West Trains (SWT).

The RMT is to ballot workers at Silverlink trains, which runs services from London to the Midlands, and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London.

The union announced on Thursday that its members at Silverlink are being balloted over strike action after they narrowly rejected a pay offer, against union advice.

DLR 'captains' on driverless trains will also be balloted after rejecting a 4% pay offer.

That vote will be coordinated with a ballot of London Underground (LU) train drivers who are involved in a separate pay row.

SWT is due to hold a 48-hour strike on Monday and Tuesday, following one earlier this month.

And Aslef union has announced ScotRail train drivers are to vote on 24-hour stoppages as part of their campaign to win parity with colleagues in other regions.