Railway double strike looms as Aslef drivers stage new walkout

Rail commuters and leisure passengers are further disrupted, with drivers working for a dozen train operators set to strike again in a pay dispute.

On Thursday September 15, train drivers who are members of the Aslef union will step down, causing the cancellation of thousands of trains across Britain.

It will involve more rail companies and drivers than the most recent strike on August 13.

Half of the railway operators concerned are mainly intercity companies: Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express.

The other six are largely commuter and short-haul operators: Chiltern Railways, Greater Anglia, London Overground, Northern, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains.

Mick Whelan, General Secretary of Aslef, said: “We regret that once again passengers will be inconvenienced.

“We don’t want to strike. Withdrawing from our jobs, although a basic human right, is always a last resort for a union – but the railroads have forced our hand.

“They want train drivers to take a pay cut in real terms – to work as hard this year as they did last, but for 10% less. Because inflation is now in double digits and soaring upwards – much higher, according to some forecasts – and yet the railways have offered us nothing.

“And this for the train drivers who have kept Britain moving – key workers and goods across the country – throughout the pandemic and who have not had a pay rise since 2019.

“We want companies – which make big profits and pay their CEOs huge salaries and bonuses – to make an appropriate salary offer to help our members with the rising cost of living.

“That’s why today we’re calling on companies to do the right thing – the decent thing – and come back to the bargaining table with an offer our members can accept.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) said of the strike: ‘For the ninth time this summer, union leaders are choosing a self-defeating strike over constructive talks, not only disrupting the lives of millions who depend on these services, but jeopardize the future of the railways and the livelihoods of their own members.

“These reforms provide the modernizations that our rail network urgently needs, are essential for the future of rail and will happen; strikes won’t change that.

When Aslef announced his August strike, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted“Train drivers are already earning almost 60,000 but that’s clearly not enough for Aslef bosses, who have called for more strikes designed to hurt the people they claim to represent, and who are earning on average much less.

“Taxpayers have given £600 per household to the railway during Covid and deserve better.”

During the previous strike, some train operators – including LNER and Great Western – operated a skeletal service, while others, such as Southeastern and London Overground, canceled all trains.

Several leading operators including South Western Railway, Southern, Thameslink, ScotRail, Transport for Wales and Merseyrail are unaffected.

Two “open access” operators on the East Coast mainline, Grand Central and Lumo, will operate as normal but are expected to be extremely busy.

International Eurostar trains from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam are not affected.

Another rail union, the white collar TSSA, is calling a strike for its members working for Network Rail and nine train operators on September 26 and 27.

The ongoing dispute with train conductors is affecting passengers on Avanti West Coast, which is running a reduced timetable until September 11 at the earliest. The biggest cuts are on services from Birmingham and Manchester to London – reduced to just one train per hour instead of three.

Rail operator blames ‘the current industrial relations climate which has resulted in severe staff shortages in some grades due to rising rates of illness, as well as the majority of drivers going unavailable for overtime in a coordinated manner and in the short term”.

Aslef says Avanti should hire more train drivers.

Railway double strike looms as Aslef drivers stage new walkout

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