British motoring groups have warned drivers to expect a surge in traffic as train passengers switch to road transport during the upcoming rail strikes.
The Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers’ union (RMT) has stated that it will “shut down” the country’s railway network on June 21, 23, and 25 in what union leaders say will amount to the “biggest rail strike in modern history.”
Motoring group AA predicted that the worst affected roads are likely to be main motorway arteries, as well as rural and suburban areas.
An AA route planner spokesman said, “Even though the strike is for three days, many travellers will give up on the trains for the whole week.”
The AA predicted “a big increase in traffic” in Scotland, Wales, and major routes across the UK.
As the rail strikes coincide with big events like the Glastonbury music festival and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the AA advised drivers who are not going to those events to “give the areas a wide berth.”
But the spokesman said the impact of the rail strikes will be “slightly cushioned” by record high fuel prices, which are deterring some people from using their vehicles, and the possibility of some commuters deciding to work from home during the strikes.
RAC, another motoring group, said the strikes will “inevitably lead to the roads being used more.”
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Major city routes as well as those serving the home counties are likely to see some of the biggest increases in traffic volumes as, even if rail lines are still open, there will be significantly fewer trains running.
“With strikes like these planned it’s perhaps little wonder that so many drivers across the country are dependent on their vehicles. Traffic jams aside, using a car often turns out to be the most practical and reliable way of getting around,” he said.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Sunday that the RMT union had been “gunning” for industrial action for weeks and accused it of “punishing” millions of “innocent people” who will be affected by the strikes.
He also said the strike action is “a huge act of self-harm,” as failure to modernise the railway “is jeopardising the future of the railway itself.”
But the main opposition Labour Party has accused the government of “hobbling” the talks between the unions and rail operators by refusing to take part.
PA Media contributed to this report.