UK – Members of the RMT union at UK rail infrastructure firm Network Rail have voted to take industrial action over pensions, travel concessions and pay.

The decision follows the company’s decision to close the Network Rail section of the Railways Pension Scheme to new members. The union said: “Network Rail has closed its final-salary pension scheme to new members and imposed an inferior and cheaper money-purchase scheme on new starters.”

Network Rail said it has ensured that the final salary scheme was “fully protected” for existing employees. And it said the new scheme is “the best defined contributions scheme in the industry, and one of the best in the market”.

"Despite a venomous and misleading propaganda campaign by Network Rail, our members have voted for action to defend their pension rights, to end two-tier working conditions and for justice on pay," said RMT general secretary Bob Crow.

He added: "Without a word of negotiation they have closed a decent pension scheme and imposed a cheaper, inferior scheme no better than a glorified savings plan.”

Network Rail chief executive John Armitt said: “This is a pointless and unnecessary dispute. Despite our best efforts to communicate the true facts to our employees the RMT’s campaign of misinformation has proved successful.”

The union said 58% of the 68% turnout backed the action.

Railpen, which manages the pension assets of the UK rail industry, yesterday named Chris Hitchen as chief executive.