Writing for this week’s (June 24th) Redditch Standard, Rachel said:

“Despite the Government supporting the rail sector to the tune of £16 billion over the course of the pandemic, my hard-working constituents are being punished by the unions as they shut down our transport network.

“This week the unions have harmed the very people they claim to be helping. By going ahead with these rail strikes, they have driven away commuters who ultimately support the jobs of rail workers, whilst also impacting local businesses and communities here in Redditch.

“This week there will undoubtedly have been constituents who were unable to get to work, to school or college, or even to hospital appointments because of the strikes.

“The Government wants a sensible compromise to end the dispute for the good of my constituents and the rail workforce.

“Let’s be clear here. Too high demands on pay will make it incredibly difficult to bring to an end the current challenges facing families in Redditch with the rising cost of living.

“The median wage for rail workers is £44,000 and the median salary for train drivers is £59,000, with a fifth of drivers earning more than £70,000. But the average nurse earns around £31,000.

“Rail pay rises can therefore only be afforded in the long term alongside reform. That’s only fair as we navigate our way out of the pandemic.

“And the Transport Secretary was right when he said that we are living in a modern world with an antiquated work practice for our railways. This Government will not load higher fares on passengers to carry on paying for working practices that date in some cases to the 19th century.

“The unions need to come back into the negotiations with Network Rail, with the train operating companies, and carry on negotiating to get this sorted.”