Business bosses predict ‘incredible’ damage due to rail strike disruption


usiness chiefs have warned that continued strike actions would cause “incredible” damage to the UK in both the short-term and long-term as firms brace themselves for heavy disruption.

Economists at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) have warned that the three strikes across Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday will have a fallout worth at least £91 million to the UK economy.

Industry leaders have warned that the costs could be even more as travellers and commuters decide to stay at home.

Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, warned that the capital “cannot afford a summer of chaos on the railways and tube lines”.

The business boss called for the RMT union, Network Rail, and the Government to return to negotiations amid fears that this week’s action could be repeated later this year.

“While this strike will be damaging, a recession is looking likely regardless; as such, I wouldn’t pin an eventual recession on this strike,” he said.

“However, what is very worrying is the possibility that this dispute continues through the year and we see multiple strikes into the future.

“A week lost every month for the foreseeable future is going to do incredible short-term and long-term damage to the economy and the UK’s reputation as an attractive destination for investment.”

The CEBR has predicted that almost 50% of the impact of the strikes will be felt on Tuesday, when both tube and rail workers are involved in strike action.

Hospitality and retail firms are expected to be particularly vulnerable to a financial hit from the loss of trade.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, has warned that the rail strike could cost the sector up to £540 million.

She said: “Fragile consumer confidence will take a further hit, thousands of people able and willing to spend money in hospitality venues across the country will be prevented from doing so, while staff will undoubtedly struggle to even get to work.

“We should all be pulling in the same direction if we’re to get the UK economy back on track, and want to see urgent and productive talks to avoid widespread disruption, next week.”

Meanwhile, James Hardiman, senior analyst at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “Unsurprisingly, the upcoming rail strikes will be damaging for retail, as the strikes limit commuter and customer traffic.

“UK footfall is already down on pre-pandemic levels, and this will only slow the progress retailers have made to bring people back in-store.”

Evening Standard