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Drivers’ strike poised to cause disruption to train services

A passengers walks through the empty concourse at Euston station( James Manning/PA)
A passengers walks through the empty concourse at Euston station( James Manning/PA)

Train services on some of the country’s busiest commuter routes will be crippled on Tuesday because of another strike by drivers.

Members of Aslef are launching a wave of fresh walkouts in a long-running dispute over pay.

Services are already being affected by a nine-day ban on overtime which started on Monday.

On Tuesday drivers will strike at Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Thameslink and South Western Railway followed by walkouts at Northern Trains and TPE on Wednesday, at LNER, Greater Anglia and C2C on Friday, at West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway on Saturday February 3 and at Great Western, CrossCountry and Chiltern on Monday February 5.

South Western Railway urged passengers to only travel if “absolutely necessary” on Tuesday, warning that a significantly reduced service will operate on a limited number of lines.

A statement said: “Large parts of our network will be closed and trains will only run between 0700 and 1900.

“There will be no services outside of these times.”

INDUSTRY Strikes
(PA Graphics)

There will be similar levels of disruption at other train operators embroiled in the dispute.

Where services do run they will start later and finish earlier than usual.

Picket lines will be mounted outside railway stations.

Aslef’s general secretary Mick Whelan says some drivers have not had a pay rise for almost five years.

He has accused the Government of “giving up” trying to resolve the row.

The strikes were expected to be the first test of the minimum service levels legislation, aimed at ensuring train operators could run 40% of services.

But none of the train companies are using the new law, which the Government is also planning to extend to other sectors.

Industrial strike
An Aslef union steward (Danny Lawson/PA)

Labour has said it will repeal the law if it wins the next general election.

Downing Street expressed disappointment at rail operators who are not using the minimum service levels legislation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the Daily Mail: “They’re available for train operators to use – a key tool that train operators themselves have asked for – to reduce the impact of disruption on passengers. They should now use them.

“Now, the public rightly expect them to be deployed when strike action is called and for train operators to act in the best interests of their passengers.”

Mr Sunak said Aslef should accept the “fair and reasonable pay deal that remains on the table”.

“It’s frustrating that yet again, Aslef’s leadership have shown no interest in resolving this dispute while continuing their campaign of contempt for British passengers and taxpayers, who have subsidised the railways with £12 billion in the past year alone,” he said.

“The choice for Aslef is clear – continue this act of self-harm to their industry and drive more passengers away from the railways, or they can accept the fair and reasonable pay deal that remains on the table.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Aslef’s leadership is refusing to let their members vote on an offer that would see the average train driver’s salary increase to £65,000.

“The Transport Secretary and Rail Minister have already facilitated talks that led to this fair and reasonable offer from industry. Aslef bosses should put it to their members so we can resolve the dispute, which has already happened with the RMT, TSSA and Unite unions.

“With passenger revenues not having recovered since the pandemic, the taxpayer has had to prop up the railways with £12 billion in the past year alone – these strikes will not change the need for urgent workplace reforms that Aslef continue to block.”