Train strikes: Chaos for travellers as rail network hit by latest walkout

Rail unions have hit the end of the summer holidays on Friday with fresh strike misery on the train network.

A 24-hour walkout by members of train drivers’ union Aslef today was severely affecting timetables, with trains starting later and finishing earlier than usual, with some areas having no services all day.

Thirteen operators have been affected by the walkout by members of the Aslef union. Due to the walkout, operators such as Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern and East Midlands Railway services have said there will be no service.

Speaking at a picket line in Euston, north London, Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: "The feedback we get - and we talk to drivers every day - is that they're in it for the long haul.

"You've got to remember some of our members, when we get to the end of this year, will be five years without a pay rise, so there's no sign of any weakening or any lack of resolve, and our members in many cases want to go harder and faster."

Robert Nisbet, spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, said Aslef must show “movement” on changes to working practices.

Asked why no talks have been held between the RDG and Aslef since April, Mr Nisbet told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Because they will not accept that core principle.”

He added: “We are looking for movement on that.”

Earlier Mr Nisbet said: “The main problem here at the moment with Aslef is that they won’t accept a link to changing the way that the industry runs.

“We have to face the fact that the industry has changed substantially since Covid because commuters are not coming back in the numbers that they thought.

“There’s a 30 per cent dip in revenue, so we’re asking unions to be realistic, to look at the situation as it is at the moment.”

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan on a picket line at Euston station in London (PA)
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan on a picket line at Euston station in London (PA)

Drivers will also ban overtime on Saturday, coinciding with a strike by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union in its dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Both unions blame the government for blocking any chance of a deal by refusing to allow train operators to make an offer they can recommend to their members.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “After taxpayers supported rail workers throughout the pandemic, it’s frustrating to see both Aslef and RMT coordinate their strikes with the aim of causing as much disruption as possible on the last weekend of the summer holidays.


“There remains fair and reasonable offers on the table for both unions, one which would bring the average train driver’s salaries up to £65,000 and one which RMT members working for Network Rail accepted months ago.

“Continued industrial action is disappointing and delays the reforms that would ultimately benefit passengers, rail workers and taxpayers.”

South Western Railway advised passengers to only travel if “absolutely necessary” on Friday, warning that most of its network will be closed.

There will be an “extremely limited” service on a small number of lines, with trains only run between 7am and 7pm.

The same advice was given for Saturday because of the RMT strike and Aslef overtime ban.

Wimbledon Conservative MP Stephen Hammond criticised the walk-outs, saying: “Yet again the people affected are my constituents whose live are disrupted. I urge unions to settle the dispute.”

A protest was held opposite Downing Street on Thursday evening.