Strikes and train derailment spark rush hour chaos across the country

Mick Whelan, the Aslef General Secretary, on the picket line outside Euston rail station
Mick Whelan, the Aslef General Secretary, on the picket line outside Euston rail station - ELLIOTT FRANKS

Commuters were hit with rush hour chaos on Friday morning as fresh train strikes left large parts of the country without service.

Members of Aslef at Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern walked out on Friday, mounting picket lines outside stations.

All five train operators said they were not running any services, with passengers urged not to attempt to travel.

Speaking at the Aslef picket line outside Euston station, Mick Whelan, the union’s general secretary, said strike action was necessary because “we haven’t had a pay rise for half a decade”.

An Aslef ban on overtime at 16 companies is also continuing until Saturday, causing more disruption to services.

Most drivers work a four-day shift pattern, with an average of 154 rest days a year.

Drivers are also entitled to a minimum of 20 days statutory annual leave, with many having extra annual leave as part of their contract, and eight bank holidays, which can be taken as lieu days if worked.

Many opt to work overtime, which can be paid up to £600 per shift.

Train drivers for Chiltern Railways, Great Western Railway, LNER, Heathrow Express, Northern and TransPennine Express will walk out on Saturday.

A strike on Monday will affect c2c, Gatwick Express, Greater Anglia (including Stansted Express), Great Northern, Southeastern, Southern, South Western Railway (including the Island Line) and Thameslink.

‘Bad faith’

Mr Whelan said: “We’ve done 17 pay deals in the last 12 months across all sectors, nations and regions – freight, open-access, Elizabeth line and Tube.

“Yet we only have a problem with one place and the place we have a problem with is the Westminster government, who are interfering with our pay deals with the private companies we work for.”

He said the union’s primary issues were with the “bad faith” train operators who refuse to negotiate because of “political dogma” and the Government who “don’t care”.

Mr Whelan added: “What they want to do is rip up every term and condition we’ve got.”

It comes as a freight train derailed in West Ealing, west London, blocking some lines between Reading and Paddington, causing delays and cancellations.

The train passed a red signal at 6.10am and three wheels of the locomotive came off the track, according to Network Rail. There were no injuries.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Trains between London Paddington and Reading may be cancelled, delayed or revised while we deal with this incident.”

“Passengers are advised to check their journey with National Rail Enquiries before travelling.”

Disruption is expected on the line until midday on Friday.