Transport for London Commissioner Andy Byford said: “We are very disappointed that the RMT has announced strike action on London Underground and the Overground. We have not yet received any official notification of this promotion from RMT.

“We urge them to withdraw these actions and continue to engage with us and Arrival Rail London, the operator of London Overground, to avoid disruption to our customers.

“Regarding the London Underground dispute, there are no changes to TfL pensions and no proposed changes as a result of this recent submission.

“Achieving a viable funding agreement with the Government was absolutely essential for the future of Transport for London and everyone who works at TfL. This recent submission to the government meets the requirements of the funding agreement. In developing these options, we were clear that if any changes were to be made, this would require appropriate consultation and further work before any decisions could be made.”

What do the unions think

RMT and TSSA members are at loggerheads over both wages and plans for radical reforms to working practices.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The summer of solidarity we have seen will continue into the autumn and winter as employers and the government continue to deny workers reasonable demands.

“We want a resolution to these disputes where our members and their families can come to an agreement. And we will not rest until we get a satisfactory result.”

Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “Our members never take industrial action lightly. We would prefer to find a just solution to this long-standing dispute through negotiations, but we simply have no choice.

“I hope whoever appoints Rishi Sunak as the new Secretary of State for Transport will see sense, unlike Grant Shapps, and use his powers to establish fair pay rises, reasonable terms and conditions and end this dispute.”

What is the quarrel about?

During the pandemic, the government had to step in to keep public transport running. On the railway and subway – by virtue of several transport catapults for London – it cost the taxpayer more than £16 billion.

Public transport is undoubtedly busier, but the pandemic has changed travel patterns forever. Rail chiefs, for example, believe there is now a permanent £2billion hole in the annual budget due to commuters working from home on a one-off basis or traveling at cheaper off-peak periods.

Since privatization in the mid-nineties, the railroad has suffered from union resistance to changes in labor practices.

Rail bosses believe costs can be cut significantly by offering thousands of workers voluntary redundancy, changing outdated work practices and making greater use of technology.

The battle is existential for unions like the RMT, whose power has been weakened by the reforms.

Could things get any worse?

yes. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport continue to implement plans to introduce minimum levels of service on the railways.

A government source said at the weekend: “The government has adopted a manifesto of commitment to introduce a minimum level of service. As we’ve seen all too often in recent months, it’s wrong that strikes keep hard-working people and families across the country from getting to work, to doctors, and to school.

“That’s why we’re introducing this law to keep Britain moving, so people can work, earn a living and grow the economy.”

The plans were ridiculed by Aslef. Mr Whelan said: “The trouble is the Trust doesn’t understand how the railway works.

“Rail companies don’t want to provide a minimum level of service because they know it’s a stupid idea. What happens when 100% of passengers try to board trains with a minimum service level of 40%? It will look like Japan, where people are herded like cattle. And the rolling stock will be in the wrong place the next day. Which will ruin the regular schedule.

“The government claims that similar legislation exists in other European countries such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Yes, it is. But what the government doesn’t know – or won’t say – is that it isn’t being enforced. Because they know it doesn’t work.”

But there is always hope…

Industrial disputes regularly end when both sides appear to have reached an impasse. The rhetoric, particularly from union leaders, often doesn’t reflect the more candid discussions going on behind the scenes.

Industry sources have said several times that floor negotiators had struck a deal in principle, but it was scuttled after a probe by union leaders.