AYRSHIRE’S trains will grind to a halt for five days from tomorrow (Tuesday) after union members rejected their employer's latest pay offer.

Officials announced last week that RMT members working for Network Rail would walk out on December 13 and 14, and again on December 16 and 17. 

A ballot of RMT members on a Network Rail pay offer closed at 4pm on Monday.

The RMT said 63.6 per cent of members voting had chosen to reject Network Rail’s offer on an 83 per cent turnout.

As with previous strike action by Network Rail’s RMT members earlier this year, there will be no trains on any Ayrshire routes during any of the strike days. 

ScotRail also says that the strike timetable will apply on the one day this week, Thursday, November 15, when RMT members working for Network Rail are not taking industrial action.

ScotRail is not involved in the dispute, but many of the Network Rail staff who are involved work in safety-critical roles, such as operating signalling systems and maintaining the track, which mean most trains are unable to run.

The rail operator had warned that even if RMT members voted to accept Network Rail's pay offer when the ballot closed on Monday, it would take at least 48 hours for normal service to be restored.

The union's general secretary Mick Lynch said: “This is a huge rejection of Network Rail’s substandard offer and shows that our members are determined to take further strike action in pursuit of a negotiated settlement.

“The Government is refusing to lift a finger to prevent these strikes and it is clear they want to make effective strike action illegal in Britain.

“We will resist that and our members, along with the entire trade union movement, will continue their campaign for a square deal for workers, decent pay increases and good working conditions.”

RMT workers at Network Rail will also strike from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on December 27.

Passengers planning to travel on Christmas Eve will likely be urged to complete their journeys by the time industrial action begins.

The RMT said the pay offer was linked to thousands of job losses, a 50 per cent cut in scheduled maintenance tasks, and a 30 per cent increase in unsocial hours.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: “The RMT leadership needs to think long and hard about what to do next. Further strike action will cause further misery for the rail industry and for their members who will lose pay.

“This news is especially frustrating given that we learnt today that colleagues represented by Unite union have accepted the very same offer put to RMT members.

"The RMT are the outliers here. They need to stop playing politics and work with us to bring this dispute to an end.

“There is clearly a significant number of Network Rail colleagues who want this deal but are caught up by these needless strikes and collective bargaining.

"Our offer, which is worth over 9 per cent with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and no changes to anyone’s terms and conditions, remains on the table.

"Our railway still faces a real financial crisis and because of that we will continue with the consultation around the implementation of the maintenance reforms.

“Sadly, with strikes now set to go ahead, passengers can expect to see widespread rail disruption throughout the week.

"We will continue to work closely with operators to run as many services as possible but we continue to ask passengers to only travel if absolutely necessary.”

The only ScotRail services which will run this week will be between 7.30am and 6.30pm on the following routes: 

- Edinburgh-Glasgow via Falkirk High: two trains per hour

- Helensburgh-Edinburgh via Glasgow, Airdrie & Bathgate: two trains per hour

- Glasgow-Larkhall via Hamilton: two trains per hour

- Glasgow-Lanark: two trains per hour

- Edinburgh-Glasgow via Shotts: one train per hour

- Edinburgh-Cowdenbeath: two trains per hour

- Edinburgh-North Berwick: one train per hour

- Edinburgh-Tweedbank: two trains per hour

- Edinburgh-Larbert: one train per hour

- Glasgow Queen St-Larbert: one train per hour

- Glasgow Queen St-Falkirk Grahamston: one train per hour

For more information see scotrail.co.uk.