// Supermarkets could risk seeing shelves empty throughout stores this month as rail strikes loom
// Iceland boss Richard Walker took to Twitter to reassure shoppers that the supermarket wouldn’t be affected by the strikes
Supermarket shelves could be risk being left empty if planned rail strikes go ahead at the end of the month, industry sources told i.
Weeks ago, ministers were privately warned by the rail freight industry of “potentially severe” impacts from the biggest walkouts in the sector for years, including supply chain disruption.
Despite Network Rail working to prioritise “nationally important” freight lines, i stated that there is still a genuine risk the strikes could lead to empty supermarket shelves in the week starting June 21, when three walkouts are currently planned.
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Supermarkets in particular may find it difficult to cope as rail often helps deliver products from warehouses to individual stores, which do not have the capacity to stockpile, i reported.
These products are also often sent on long journeys, for example from the Midlands to Aberdeen or the North West to London, that are difficult to replace with road haulage, a sector already suffering a driver shortage.
Rail is also increasingly being used by supermarkets to transport goods but in reaction to the news, Iceland boss Richard Walker took to Twitter to reassure Brits that the value supermarket wouldn’t be affected by rail strikes.
It will be the sector’s biggest industrial action in a generation when members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 13 train operators walk out on three separate days stretched across a week.
Talks between Network Rail and the union are expected to be held in the next few days to avert the strikes.
Network Rail network operations director Jake Kelly said: “We are working nonstop to keep nationally important freight flows – including supermarket supplies and fuel – moving during strike action”.