Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 13 train operators walked out today and are due to continue the protest on Thursday and Saturday in the biggest outbreak of industrial action on the railways for a generation.
Services across the UK were hit from last night and just one in five trains will run on strike days, primarily on main lines and only for around 11 hours.
Talks were held into yesterday afternoon but the sides remain deadlocked over a deal.
The RMT said the train operators have now made an offer and there is no further offer from Network Rail following one which was rejected last Friday.
General secretary Mick Lynch said: “The RMT National Executive Committee has found both sets of proposals to be unacceptable and it is now confirmed that the strike action scheduled this week will go ahead.
“It is clear that the Tory Government, after slashing £4bn of funding from National Rail and Transport for London, has now actively prevented a settlement to this dispute.
“The rail companies have now proposed pay rates that are massively under the relevant rates of inflation, coming on top of the pay freezes of the past few years.
“Companies are also seeking to implement thousands of job cuts and have failed to give any guarantee against compulsory redundancies.”
The ‘indefinite’ walkout started on June 6 after Unite the Union took action over what they described as a “pitiful” pay offer.
Just over a third of LNER’s usual trains will be running, with the final departure from Leeds to London Kings Cross being at 3.45pm.
Services will not be operating on most Northern routes, with a “very limited” number of trains on the few running lines, including those from Leeds.
Most TransPennine Express routes will see a “significant reduction” of trains, while just one CrossCountry train per hour is to run between Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly, Leicester, Leeds, York and Reading.
The RMT said rail companies were “attacking” the Railway Pension Scheme and the Transport for London scheme, diluting benefits, making staff work longer and making them poorer in retirement, while having to pay increased contributions.
The union said thousands of jobs were being cut across the rail network with no guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
Officials also claimed working practices were being changed and ticket office closures were being planned.
Mr Lynch added: “Faced with such an agenda of cuts to jobs, conditions, pay and pensions, RMT has no choice but to defend our members to stop this race to the bottom.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Strikes should always be the last resort, not the first, so it is hugely disappointing and premature that the RMT is going ahead with industrial action.
“The Government committed £16bn – or £600 per household – to keep our railways running throughout the pandemic while ensuring not a single worker lost their job.
“The railway is still on life support, with passenger numbers 25 per cent down, and anything that drives away even more of them risks killing services and jobs.”