Fresh strikes by train drivers to cause more disruption for rail passengers

Rail services on some of the busiest commuter routes in the country will be at a standstill on Tuesday because of a fresh strike by drivers in a near two-year long pay dispute.

Members of Aslef at English operators including those running services into London such as Southern, Southeastern and South Western Railway will walk out for the day.

Strikes will be held on Wednesday and Thursday at different operators, while drivers are also banning overtime until Saturday which is also causing disruption.

UK rail strikes in May
(PA Graphics)

Passengers are being urged to check before attempting to travel by train this week.

The dispute is now the longest ever in the rail industry.

There is a glimmer of hope that negotiations will start in a bid to resolve the row after the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) invited Aslef to talks about exploring any common ground which could break the deadlock.

No formal talks between the operators and the union have been held for a year and for longer involving a transport minister.

Business groups have warned of the impact on the economy of the strikes, especially for hospitality firms.

Muniya Barua, deputy chief executive at BusinessLDN, said: “Yet another round of industrial action across the rail network will cause disruption for businesses and commuters up and down the country.

“Amid weak economic growth, and as we head into a summer trading period which is crucial for retail, leisure and hospitality firms, we urge all parties to work together to resolve these long-running talks and keep the city moving. The impact of these walkouts will be felt even more acutely by many owing to a shorter working week.”

Train drivers will strike on the following days:

Tuesday May 7: c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR’s Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern (including Gatwick Express), Southeastern, and South Western Railway.

Wednesday May 8: Avanti West Coast, London Northwestern Railway, Chiltern, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, GWR, and West Midlands Trains.

Thursday May 9: LNER, Northern, and TransPennine Express.

Aslef said its members have not had a pay rise for five years and has accused the Government of “giving up” trying to resolve the dispute.

A spokesman for the RDG said: “The rail industry is working hard to keep trains running but it is likely that services on some lines will be affected on the evening before and morning after each strike between May 7 and May 9 because many trains will not be in the right depots to start services the following day.

“We can only apologise to our customers for this wholly unnecessary strike action called by the Aslef leadership which will sadly disrupt journeys once again.

“It will also inflict further damage on an industry that is receiving up to an additional £54 million a week in taxpayer cash to keep services running, following the Covid downturn.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The Transport Secretary and rail minister have already facilitated a pay offer that would take train drivers’ average salaries up to £65,000 – almost twice the UK average salary.

“Aslef are the only union left striking after the Government oversaw deals with all the other unions.

“Instead of causing passengers disruption, they should put this offer to their members and work with industry to end this dispute.”

Meanwhile, engineers on the Croydon Tramlink went on strike on Sunday until 6am on Thursday in a separate pay dispute.