Members of the RMT union have voted by three to one in favour of accepting a pay offer from Network Rail.

Thousands of union members who work with Network Rail, including signalling staff, have voted to accept a 9% pay increase over two years in a referendum yesterday (20 March). On a turnout of nearly 90%, the union said 76% of members voted to accept the offer, thereby ending the dispute with Network Rail.

RMT members at 14 train operators will still strike on 30 March and 1 April, while the Aslef union is yet to settle its dispute.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Our dispute with the train operating companies remains firmly on and our members’ recent highly effective strike action across the 14 train companies has shown their determination to secure a better deal.

“If the government now allows the train companies to make the right offer, we can then put that to our members, but until then the strike action scheduled for 30 March and 1 April will take place. The ball is in the government’s court.”

The breakthrough has nevertheless been welcomed as a vital step in ending long-running strike action, in the hope that it will end the most disruptive strikes.

Responding to the news, UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “This is encouraging news for hospitality businesses, who may dare to hope that their role as collateral damage in this dispute could be coming to an end.

“There’s plenty still to be done, of course, with ongoing negotiations between other employee groups, but I hope that this agreement paves the way for rail and tube strikes to end completely.

“Venues across the country have so far incurred lost sales upwards of £3 billion and would have struggled immensely to deal with that level of ongoing disruption. I would encourage everyone involved to continue their urgent negotiations and bring to an end strikes that have heaped misery on businesses, consumers and workers for almost a year.”

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “I am pleased Network Rail’s RMT members have voted to accept a fair and reasonable 5% plus 4% pay offer, over two years, that the government worked hard to facilitate.

“While this is good news, unfortunately, RMT members who work for train operating companies are not being given the same chance to bring their dispute to an end. That’s because the RMT has refused to put the Rail Delivery Group’s very similar offer to a vote, denying these members the pay rise they deserve.

“That’s why I am once again urging the RMT to call off their upcoming strikes across train operating companies, put the Rail Delivery Group offer to a vote, and give all of their members a say.”