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Train strikes: Aslef drivers to stage fresh walkouts and overtime ban in new blow to commuters

Train drivers will stage a series of fresh strikes and an overtime ban from the end of the month in a long-running pay dispute, their union Aslef announced on Monday.

The industrial action will take place between Tuesday January 30 and Monday February 5, affecting different operators on separate days.

Drivers with the union will also refuse to work overtime from Monday January 29 until Tuesday February 6, also bringing disruption.

The fresh series of strikes comes amid a long-running pay dispute with 16 train operating companies, including many running services frequently used by London commuters.

Under the planned stoppages, drivers will strike at Southeastern, GTR Southern/Gatwick Express, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, SWR Island Line, and South Western Railway main line and depot drivers on Tuesday January 30.

Strikes will take place on Northern Trains and TransPennine Trains on Wednesday January 31, and on C2C, Greater Anglia, and LNER services on Friday Feburary 2.

In addition, walkouts will akso take place on Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, and West Midlands Trains on Saturday February 3, and at Chiltern, CrossCountry, and GWR on Monday February 5.

A similar week of rolling strike action last month threw national rail services into disarray.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: "We have given the Government every opportunity to come to the table but it has now been a year since we had any contact from the Department for Transport. It's clear they do not want to resolve this dispute.

"Many of our members have not had a single penny increase to their pay for half a decade, during which time inflation has soared and, with it, the cost of living.

"Train drivers didn't even ask for an increase during the Covid-19 pandemic when we worked throughout lockdown as key workers, risking our lives, to move goods around the country and to enable NHS and other workers to get to work."

However, a Rail Delivery Group spokesman, which is representing the train operating companies, said the strikes were "difficult to justify".

“Despite the railway's huge financial challenge, drivers have been made an offer which would take base salaries to nearly £65,000 for a four day week without overtime - that is well above the national average and significantly more than many of our passengers that have no option to work from home are paid," said the spokesman.

"Instead of staging more damaging industrial action, we call on the ASLEF leadership to work with us to resolve this dispute and deliver a fair deal which both rewards our people, and makes the changes needed to make services more reliable.”

Many train operating companies will likely not be able to operate services.

However, the strikes could also be a test of the Government's controversial new minimum services levels law, aimed at ensuring a minimum level of service during strikes, set at 40 per cent in the transport sector.

The legislation is untested, and Mr Whelan insisted it would not "ease industrial strife".