Train strikes announced for May Bank Holiday week

Rail passenger looks at departure board
[Getty Images]

Rail passengers are being warned of disruption during the week of the May Bank Holiday after drivers announced more strikes and an overtime ban.

Staff at 16 train companies will take part in rolling one-day walkouts between 7 and 9 May over pay and working conditions.

An overtime ban will also take place between 6 and 11 May.

Passengers are advised to check before they travel, with the action likely to lead to delays and cancellations.

The Bank Holiday falls on 6 May this year.

Aslef, the train drivers' union, said it is seeking better pay for its members and claimed drivers are being asked to sacrifice working conditions in exchange for a wage increase.

Drivers from several train companies will strike on different days.

  • Tuesday 7 May: c2c, Greater Anglia, Great Northern, Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express, South Western Railway main line and Island Line

  • Wednesday 8 May: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway and West Midlands Trains

  • Thursday 9 May: LNER, Northern Trains and TransPennine Express

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, the body that negotiates on behalf of the rail companies, said: "This wholly unnecessary strike action called by the Aslef leadership will sadly disrupt customers and businesses once again, while further damaging the railway at a time when taxpayers are continuing to contribute an extra £54m a week just to keep services running.

"We continue to seek a fair agreement with the Aslef leadership which both rewards our people, gives our customers more reliable services and makes sure the railway isn't taking more than its fair share from taxpayers."

Mick Whelan, Aslef's general secretary, said: "It is now a year since we sat in a room with the train companies - and a year since we rejected the risible offer they made and which they admitted, privately, was designed to be rejected."

Little progress has been made in solving the row between Aslef and the rail companies since the union first started striking in July 2022.

The most recent pay deal was rejected almost a year ago in April 2023.

The offer included 4% pay rises for two years in a row, on condition that drivers would accept industry-wide changes to training, and negotiate changes to work patterns at individual operators.

The last series of train strikes took place during the first and second weeks of April.

However, a London Underground drivers' strike scheduled for Monday 8 April and Saturday 4 May was called off. A spokesperson for Aslef said at the time that "key issues" had been "successfully resolved" in the London Underground dispute "without the need for strikes".

Analysis box by Katy Austin, Transport correspondent

The train drivers' dispute is stuck on repeat. And passengers are left in the middle of a standoff with no current end in sight. Each time a new strike is announced, the government insists the offer which Aslef's committee rejected a year ago should be put to members in a vote.

Ministers and the industry group which does the negotiating say any deal has to be fair to be taxpayers, who put billions in subsidies into the railway every year.

Aslef argues those proposals, especially with strings attached to a pay rise, were never going to be acceptable to its members. It thinks a better offer should be put forward.

The government wants to cut costs and the industry argues proposed changes would also increase reliability. But from Aslef's perspective, members are being asked to give up too much by way of terms and conditions, for the pay rise that's on offer.

Train drivers have kept voting for more industrial action. So, the strikes keep coming.

It is difficult to see a resolution coming before the general election. And whoever's in government after that, it's not clear what they would do differently to end the dispute.