Commuters face fresh strike misery as London Underground and train drivers set to walk out

Commuters are braced for days of fresh travel misery as a wave of train strikes is set to cripple both the national railway network and London Underground.

In a shock announcement last month, Aslef revealed drivers at 16 train companies will be taking “rolling one-day strikes” from April 5 to 8.

The union also announced Tube drivers will stage two 24-hour strikes on Monday, April 8 and Saturday, May 4.

Disruption will begin on Thursday when train drivers refuse to work overtime unless a last-minute solution can be reached.

The train companies affected by the national strikes are Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains, and CrossCountry on Friday, April 5; Chiltern, GWR, LNER, Northern, and TransPennine Trains on Saturday, April 6; and at c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway main line and depot drivers, and SWR Island Line on Monday, April 8.

Members will also refuse to work overtime from April 4 to 6, and April 8 to 9.

Speaking when the Tube strikes were announced Finn Brennan, a representative for the union, said: “Aslef Tube train drivers will strike in April and May in a long-running dispute over London Underground’s failure to give assurances that changes to our members’ terms and conditions will not be imposed without agreement and that all existing agreements will be honoured.

“Despite a previous commitment to withdraw plans for massive changes to drivers’ working conditions, London Underground management has established a full-time team of managers preparing to impose their plans.

“They want drivers to work longer shifts, spending up to 25 per cent more time in the cab, and to remove all current working agreements in the name of ‘flexibility and efficiency’.”

In January Sadiq Khan decided to use £30m of taxpayers’ cash to avert a week of walk-outs by union RMT, which represents about 10,000 Tube staff.

The RMT walk-outs would have effectively shut the Underground for four days, as staff demanded a 12 per cent pay rise.

But an unprecedented intervention saw the mayor decide to use unspecified City Hall funds to enable pay negotiations.

The decision prompted Aslef – which had already agreed to accept a five per cent increase – to demand more cash.

The union said the mayor “had found the magic money tree and our members expect to share the fruit”.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies in the ongoing talks over pay and conditions, said when the strikes were announced: "Nobody wins when industrial action impacts people's lives and livelihoods, and we will work hard to minimise any disruption to our passengers.

"We want to resolve this dispute, but the Aslef leadership need to recognise that hard-pressed taxpayers are continuing to contribute an extra £54 million a week just to keep services running post-Covid.

"We continue to seek an agreement with the Aslef leadership and remain open to talks to find a solution to this dispute."

Responding to news of the Tube strikes, a TfL spokesperson said: “We have been in long-term discussions with our trade union colleagues on how to modernise procedures and processes on London Underground to improve the experience both for staff and customers.

“We have no plans to impose these changes and have committed to no one losing their job as part of these changes, and we have engaged with our unions to demonstrate that no change will be made that compromises our steadfast commitment to safety on the Tube network.

“We urge Aslef to continue discussions with us so that disruption for Londoners can be averted.”