August 5, 2009 / 2:49 PM / 10 years ago

Two-day rail strike to hit London

A striking member of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union (R) looks across at passengers waiting to catch an overland train at Upminster rail and tube station in London, July 18, 2002. REUTERS/Russell Boyce

LONDON (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of passengers on one of the main rail lines serving London’s financial district face two days of disruption from Thursday after talks aimed at averting a strike broke down, a union said on Wednesday.

Rail operator National Express East Anglia said most of its trains in and out of Liverpool Street mainline station will be cancelled on Thursday and Friday. More than 200,000 people use the service each day.

Bob Crow, head of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union, said he expected more workers to take part in the latest 48-hour strike than a similar walkout last week.

The earlier strike in a row over pay and conditions severely disrupted commuter journeys and travel to Stansted Airport, north of London, at the height of the holiday season.

Crow’s RMT and a second union, ASLEF, called a strike ballot in July, accusing the company of a “failure to make any kind of meaningful pay offer to staff.”

National Express East Anglia said last week that the unions had asked for an “unrealistic” 2.5 percent pay rise and a four-day working week for all its members. No one from the company was immediately available for comment. The latest strike will start in the early hours of Thursday and end early on Saturday. A further strike is planned for August 20 and 21.

Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by David Cowell

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