UK train driver strike causes fresh travel chaos

Services will be suspended on 15 of Britain's main rail lines

Powered by automated translation

Britain’s train drivers are striking again on Friday, with the industry’s largest union warning of further action if talks fail.

Thousands of members of the Aself and Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) unions are walking out for the second day this week, which will suspend services on 15 of the UK’s main train lines.

Maintenance workers on London's Elizabeth Line will stage a 24-hour strike from Friday night, also in a dispute over pay.

Rail operators were warning of severe disruption, with trains that do run due to start later and finish much earlier than usual — typically between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

It is likely that Saturday morning services on some lines will also be affected because rolling stock will not be in the right depots.

Friday's strike follows a mass walkout on Wednesday, which involved as many half a million workers in many parts of the public sector, including teachers and Border Force officials, who were protesting against below-inflation pay deals.

Talks between Aslef and train company representatives are due to resume on Tuesday.

The rail industry said it was working hard to keep some trains running and criticised the rejection of an offer which would give drivers an 8 per cent pay rise over two years, taking average salaries up from nearly £60,000 a year to almost £65,000.

Simon Weller, assistant general secretary of Aslef, said the dispute was going “backwards” because of the lack of progress in months of talks.

“I don't know whether to point the finger of blame at the ineptitude of the Department for Transport or the Rail Delivery Group,” he said.

“We would struggle to recommend a deal of a 4 per cent pay rise for last year and 4 per cent this year if there were no conditions attached, but we are being asked to give up collective bargaining and effectively agree to a no-strike deal.

“Obviously it was going to be rejected — it was designed to fail.”

Britain's worst day of strikes in more than a decade — in pictures

Mr Weller said the attitude among Aslef members was “hardening”, but he believed the fault lay squarely with the Department of Transport and train operators.

He claimed the latest offer would add a “significant” number of contracted hours to a train driver.

On the question of whether Sunday working should be compulsory, he said: “We have been willing to include Sundays in the working week, but companies find it cheaper to have drivers working overtime on Sundays.”

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Having made an initial offer which would have taken average driver salaries from £60,000 to nearly £65,000, we had hoped the Aslef leadership would engage constructively to move talks forward, rather than staging more unnecessary strikes.

“We can only apologise for the disruption.

“To minimise the impact of the Aslef action, we advise passengers to check before they travel, allow extra time and find out when their first and last train will depart.”

Around 1,900 members of Unite working as bus drivers for Abellio in London will complete a three-day strike on Friday in a separate dispute over pay.

Updated: February 03, 2023, 7:05 PM