eurovision fans will face the chaos of the trains when the railway workers once again leave strike in an attempt to secure a long-sought payment agreement. Workers are leaving 14 train operators today, the same day the Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Liverpool, and fans have been advised to make travel arrangements in advance to avoid being caught out by the disruption. . The union’s action was announced just hours after Aslef, who represents train drivers, said its members would picket the same day as the FA Cup final.
The strike will affect 17 train lines on Saturday, including the Great Western Railway, Gatwick Express and the West Midlands Railway.
RMT boss Mick Lynch said the strike comes after Rail Delivery Group (RPG), a rail membership body, scrapped wage negotiations.
He said the strikes were purposely not timed to disrupt travel to the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, arguing it is the “last day under the legislation” they can strike.
He told TalkTV that the members also prefer to strike on Saturdays and that RMT was fulfilling that wish.
Speaking from the picket line in Euston, Lynch said he was sorry for the disruption, but travelers have had “plenty of time to make arrangements.”
He said: “It’s part of a long-running campaign, we don’t have a deal, we’ve been at it for almost a year, there’s no offer we can take.
“Despite constant negotiations, we do not have an offer that our members find acceptable, so the campaign continues and we are taking further strike action.
“We want a wage deal, we would like a guarantee of job security for our members in the future, it’s actually a defensive battle, we haven’t had a wage increase for our members for four years.
“We have not targeted Eurovision, this is the last day under the legislation we can strike, we have a new mandate now, but this is the last day we can strike.”
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Katie O’Reilly, 46, an accountant from Cardiff heading to Liverpool Lime Street, said she had planned to drive to the city for Eurovision if train strikes had disrupted her journey.
Speaking at Euston station in London, he said: “We’re very excited, we go a lot, we’ve been abroad for them. I’ve been a fan since I was about six years old.
“Train disruption is a factor, but as long as our train is running we are happy. We had hidden plans, if we didn’t get a train, we were going to drive there. We booked our tickets about four or five months ago.
“We are excited to enjoy the atmosphere, to go to the Eurovillage, to go to the club, very excited. I’m with my best friend from college, so what could be better?
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Merseyrail, which has tracks through Liverpool, Cheshire and Lancashire, is not affected by the stoppages and should operate a normal service.
Great Britain hosts the event on behalf of Ukrainewhich won last year’s competition, and the show will kick off with a performance by Kalush Orchestra, the Ukrainian folk-rap band that took the 2022 trophy with their lyrical and defiant song “Stefania”.
As contestants from the finalist nations enter an Olympic-style parade of flags, there will be live performances by Ukrainian acts including Jamala, Tina Karol and Verka Serduchka, all former Eurovision competitors. Britain’s Sam Ryder, who came second last year, is also scheduled to perform, and a group of Eurovision greats from the past will perform a set of classic Liverpool songs.
Then, 26 acts will have three minutes each to meld catchy tunes and mind-blowing spectacle into performances capable of winning the hearts of millions of viewers.