TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has warned that the heatwave across many parts of Britain shows government must "urgently wake up" to the unfolding climate crisis.
Cortes stressed that given the central role rail can play in the journey to reaching net zero it was time the Conservatives stopped attacking those seeking fair pay and job security in an ongoing widespread dispute, but rather backed the railways with meaningful long-term investment.
The comments come against a backdrop of escalating travel disruption.
Network Rail is warning that people should only travel if absolutely necessary; while many train operators are running slower or reduced services. Avanti West coast has suspended ticket sales for today and tomorrow and ScotRail is running with speed restrictions. In London some lines are suspended or running special services on both the Underground and Overground.
Commenting, union leader Cortes said: “I want to pay tribute to every single one of our members and all those working on public transport in this intense heat, again showing that they are the backbone of this country.
“Today and tomorrow, as always, our members are playing a vital role in making sure supplies are delivered and those who have to travel for work can do so. Yet these are the same people fighting for fair pay and their job security, while this chaotic and intransigent Conservative government falls apart.
“It’s time Ministers and all politicians acknowledged the central part rail can play in tackling climate change. Government must urgently wake up to the reality that our planet is on fire.
“For too many years politicians have failed to invest anything like enough to make our railways resilient in the face of the climate crisis, never mind doing what is needed to decarbonise our economy, for example increasing rail fares while cutting domestic air passenger duty.
"Whoever emerges as the next Prime Minister should pledge, from day one, to put our railways, and those who make the network run safely, at the heart of our country's future.”
*TSSA members have voted for strike action at Network Rail, LNER, c2c, East Midlands Railway, CrossCountry, in station grates at Avanti West Coast and for action short of a strike at West Midlands Trains and Northern.
Members in station grades at Avanti West Coast will hold a one day strike on Wednesday 27 July.
Members in Great Western Railways will take industrial action short of strike on Saturday 30 July in a move that will affect contingency cover for train drivers’ union Aslef’s strike action that day.
All the above action is an a dispute over pay, job security and no changes to terms and conditions without agreement.