Potential Impact of July’s Rail Strikes on UK Festivals

todayJuly 13, 2023 17

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Potential Impact of July’s Rail Strikes on UK Festivals

The upcoming rail strikes in the UK have raised concerns about their potential impact on festivals and events scheduled for July. Amid an ongoing dispute involving trade unions, train operators, and the government, over 20,000 rail workers have announced their intention to strike on the 20th, 22nd, and 29th of the month. Fourteen operators, including Avanti, Great Western Railway, and West Midlands Trains, are part of this dispute. Last week, the ban on overtime hours instructed by the train drivers union ASLEF affected hundreds of trains operated by these and other companies. This ban will coincide with the first two strike dates organized by the RMT union next week.

U.K. rail strike strands commuters and pits workers against the government  : NPR

Several festivals that may be impacted include Secret Garden Party, bluedot, and Dialled In The Park. Dhruva Balram, co-founder of Dialled In, stated that around 2,500 attendees are expected at Lloyd Park in East London. Festival-goers will be provided with information about the strikes, alternative routes, and transportation options. “We are aware that people will be traveling from outside London and are deeply disappointed about the train strikes on the day,” Balram said. However, he placed the blame on the government for “undermining a vital service” rather than on the workers who are demanding better pay and conditions. “We stand in solidarity with workers and strive for better pay and conditions for all.”

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Secret Garden Party advises festival-goers to explore platforms such as LiftShare and Big Green Coach for alternative transportation options. A spokesperson from Secret Garden Party mentioned that they are in contact with the stationmaster to coordinate shuttle services and provide updates on reduced train service timings. Despite the disruptions, festival-goers remain determined to attend. Laleh Yeganegy expressed disappointment that her mother may not be able to make the journey from Southampton to Macclesfield for bluedot. However, she stated that they will still bring the children, even if it means missing a night in the dance tent.

Secret Garden Party 2023

Sam William from Shrewsbury, who has a ticket for Secret Garden Party, will now need to travel earlier to join friends from Bristol. He emphasized that missing a day is not an option. “Trains are absolutely unreliable in the UK—it’s just become standard practice,” he said. The impact of the strikes extends beyond festivals. The Orb has already canceled a gig scheduled for July 22nd at the Fox and Firkin venue in London. Event promoter Liquid Ross explained that Lewisham, with its lack of a tube station, is already challenging to reach, and the strikes are likely to exacerbate the situation. The ongoing strikes stem from the government’s refusal to meet the RMT’s demand for inflation-matched pay rises. Last year, 40,000 union members voted for strike action in response to this issue and the threat of redundancies. This ongoing dispute marks the largest industrial action in over three decades.

This year's Secret Garden Party festival will be the last ever

In May, RMT members supported a new mandate for strike action, indicating that disruptions could continue until November. John Rostron, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals, emphasized that the strikes are adding extra pressure to independent business owners already facing supply chain costs and the broader cost-of-living crisis. He called for the government and train operators to engage in discussions with the RMT to resolve the issue promptly.


Written by: AIT

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