Passengers braced for more misery during train drivers’ strike

Rail passengers face more travel chaos on Wednesday because of continuing strikes by train drivers in a long-running pay dispute.

Members of Aslef will walk out at services running across England and into Wales and Scotland on Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains, CrossCountry, London North Western Railway, Chiltern and Great Western Railway.

Services will be crippled for the day, with stations closed and few trains running.

Those that do run will start later and finish earlier than usual.

An ongoing overtime ban at 16 train operators is continuing until Saturday which is also causing disruption.

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

Railway station
Passengers at Carnforth railway station (Owen Humphreys/PA)

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

Strikes on some of the busiest commuter routes in the country led to the widespread cancellation of services on Tuesday at c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR’s Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern (including Gatwick Express), Southeastern, and South Western Railway.

A strike will be held on Thursday at 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.”

There is a glimmer of hope that negotiations will start in a bid to resolve the row after the Rail Delivery Group 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.