Industrial action to cripple railways as union calls strikes and overtime ban

Rail and tram passengers face a week of disruption because of strikes which will lead to some parts of the country having no trains on days of industrial action.

Members of the train drivers’ union Aslef at 16 operators will launch a six-day ban on overtime on Monday, which is expected to cause short-notice cancellations.

They will also stage three, one-day strikes across different operators between May 7 and 9, as part of a long running dispute over pay.

Passengers are being urged to check before they travel, with services that do run on strike days starting later and finishing earlier than usual.

No talks have been held between the union and train operators for more than a year, and for longer involving the government.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, wrote to Aslef last week suggesting informal talks which could result in more formal negotiations.

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.

Aslef strike
Aslef has called for a ban on overtime and three one-day strikes (Aaron Chown/PA)

“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.”

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.

Meanwhile, engineers on the Croydon Tramlink will strike from 8pm on Sunday to 6am on Thursday in a separate pay dispute.

Unite said its members are paid up to £10,000 a year less than similarly qualified workers on London Underground.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is outrageous that Transport for London somehow thinks it is acceptable to be systemically underpaying highly skilled workers who are essential to keep the tram system functioning.”

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.”