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Third strike on main London rail route

WORKERS on one of the main lines into London began another two-day strike today in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions, bringing more disruption to thousands of passengers.

Rail operator National Express East Anglia (NXEA) said it would run only a very limited service and most of its trains in and out of Liverpool Street mainline station would be cancelled on today and tomorrow. It warned that trains that did run would be extremely busy.

More than 200,000 people use the service to London from Essex, Cambridgeshire and East Anglia every day and the action also affects trains from London to Stansted Airport.

It is the third strike involving staff from three unions, ASLEF, the RMT and TSSA, and another 48-hour stoppage is planned for Aug. 20.

"The company seems to live on another planet," said ASLEF General Secretary Keith Norman.

"Train drivers voted by 95 percent to 5 percent to back industrial action: the RMT vote was of a similar level and this week the TSSA has joined the three-week dispute.

"But despite this, NXEA doesn't seem to realise it has a problem, and certainly has shown no sign of doing anything to remedy it."

National Express East Anglia said the unions had asked for an "unrealistic" 2.5 percent pay rise and a four-day working week for all its members.

The company's managing director Andrew Chivers has apologised to passengers for the disruption.

"We are extremely disappointed that the ASLEF and RMT unions have called this industrial action over their salary demands, despite lengthy negotiations where we have offered the unions a salary increase above the rate of inflation," he said.

"In the present economic environment -- where many companies are freezing pay at current levels -- we believe the offers we have made are both realistic and appropriate."


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