The train drivers’ union, Aslef, has introduced the subsequent spherical of industrial action in its lengthy and bitter dispute with 14 English train operators over pay, jobs and working circumstances. Drivers will stroll out on Saturday 30 September and Wednesday 4 October, triggering the cancellation of hundreds of trains on every day and wrecking tens of millions of deliberate journeys.
In addition the union will impose an time beyond regulation ban on Friday 29 September and from Monday 2 to Friday 6 October – disrupting rail journey for over per week. The strikes are timed to hit the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, which begins on Sunday 1 October – the day after the primary walk-out – and ends on Wednesday 4 October, the day of the second stoppage.
Announcing the strike, Mick Whelan, Aslef’s normal secretary, mentioned: “While we remorse having to take this action – we don’t need to lose a day’s pay, or disrupt passengers as they fight to journey by train – the federal government, and the employers have compelled us into this place.
“Our members haven’t, now, had a pay rise for 4 years – since 2019 – and that’s not proper when costs have soared in that point. Train drivers, completely moderately, need to have the opportunity to purchase now what they may purchase 4 years in the past.”
Caught in the course of the dispute, the long-suffering passenger. This Q&A goals to clarify what lies behind the battle and the doubtless impression of the forthcoming strikes.
When did the industrial action begin?
The first nationwide rail strikes for the reason that 1980s started in June 2022. The unions concerned are Aslef and the RMT, the biggest rail union. They are concerned in parallel disputes with the 14 main English train operators, which run the primary intercity and commuter companies.
Transport for Wales and ScotRail are unaffected.
For 15 months, nationwide rail strikes and different types of industrial action have scuppered the journey plans of tens of millions of train passengers. Stoppages have been referred to as often, inflicting huge disruption and making advance journey planning tough.
The RMT has to this point staged walk-outs on 33 days within the present wave of nationwide strikes, with Aslef stopping work on 13 earlier events.
The authorities – which contracts the rail companies to run trains – will log out the ultimate settlement. But the unions and administration seem as far aside as ever.
What is the issue?
Both unions are demanding no-strings will increase that take note of the excessive stage of inflation. They say they’re ready to talk about reforms, however these have to be negotiated individually. They count on any modifications to be accompanied by commensurate pay boosts.
Train operators and ministers insist modernisation is crucial following the collapse of rail income. Much of the “bedrock” of season ticket gross sales has vanished for the reason that Covid pandemic. The solely method to award even a modest improve, the employers keep, is to fund it out of effectivity financial savings.
Which train operators are concerned within the nationwide disputes?
The RMT and Aslef strikes contain the 14 rail companies in England contracted by the Department for Transport. They embrace the main intercity operators:
- Avanti West Coast
- East Midlands Railway
- Great Western Railway
- TransPennine Express
London commuter operators:
- Greater Anglia
- GTR (Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern, Thameslink)
- South Western Railway (together with the Island Line on the Isle of Wight)
Operators specializing in the Midlands and north of England:
- Chiltern Railways
- Northern Trains
- West Midlands Railway
Which trains will run in the course of the strikes?
Aslef mentioned of its September and October walk-outs: “The strike will force companies to cancel all services in this country.”
That shouldn’t be the case.
On each the strike dates, passengers can count on regular service on:
- Caledonian Sleeper
- Elizabeth Line
- Grand Central
- Hull Trains
- London Overground
- Transport for Wales
Many of the trains that these operators run are doubtless to be extra punctual than regular, as a result of so many different companies can be axed – lowering the prospect of congestion.
They might, nevertheless, be extra crowded on routes that duplicate strike-hit traces. Transport for Wales companies between Newport, Cardiff and Swansea, and between Crewe and Manchester, could possibly be busier than regular. Some trains might limit both boarding or leaving trains at sure stations to keep away from overcrowding.
The three “open access” operators on the East Coast most important line – Grand Central, Hull Trains and Lumo – are additionally doubtless to be busy.
On train operators affected by the Aslef walk-out, the deliberate service ranges are listed beneath. Where trains are proven as working, companies are doubtless to be between 7.30am and 7pm until in any other case indicated.
Please examine with operators shortly earlier than journey for the newest image:
Southeastern: No trains.
Southern: No trains besides a nonstop shuttle service between London Victoria and Gatwick airport, from 6am to 11.30am.
Gatwick Express: No trains however the Southern airport shuttle will cowl the bottom.
Thameslink: No trains.
Southwestern: A core service of up to 4 trains per hour between London Waterloo with Woking, with one train every hour prolonged to each Guildford and Basingstoke.
Great Western Railway (GWR): A core service will run between London Paddington and Oxford, Bath and Bristol, with a link from Bristol to Cardiff. There can be “a very limited service” on some department traces .The Night Riviera sleeper service from London to Penzance won’t run from Friday 29 September to Thursday 5 October inclusive.
Heathrow Express: half-hourly trains between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
CrossNation: No trains.
Chiltern: No trains.
West Midlands Railway: No trains.
Avanti West Coast: No trains. “Late services the night before and early services the next day will also be affected,” the train operator says.
Northern: No trains.
TransPennine Express: No trains.
East Midlands Railway: No trains.
LNER: Regular trains on core routes linking London King’s Cross with Leeds, York and Newcastle. Planned engineering work implies that a rail-replacement bus will run between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
Great Northern: No trains.
Greater Anglia: Limited service linking London Liverpool Street with Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester (although with impediments on Saturday 30 September due to engineering work); Southend Victoria; and Stansted airport.
What about the times earlier than and after the strikes?
In addition to the disruption on strike days, trains on adjoining days could also be affected. Trains on today are additionally doubtless to be extraordinarily busy due to passengers transferring their journeys to keep away from industrial action.
Is the London Underground working?
The Underground is unaffected by the Aslef industrial action, however a separate strike by members of the RMT union in a dispute over jobs and security will trigger an virtually whole shutdown of the Tube community on Wednesday 4 and Friday 6 October.
Will the London Overground and the Elizabeth Line run?
The London Overground and the Elizabeth Line are unaffected by Aslef’s industrial action. But some routes that provide options to rail companies hit by industrial action can be busier than regular, specifically the Elizabeth Line from Reading and Shenfield to central London.
On 4 October, the second Aslef strike day when the Tube can be hit by a separate walk-out, trains are doubtless to be extraordinarily busy. Elizabeth Line passengers are being advised: “There may be last-minute changes, including trains non-stopping at stations shared with London Underground.”
Can I get to the airport?
That all relies upon. This is how the primary English airports served by train look:
Heathrow: On the Aslef strike days, the quick however costly Heathrow Express will run half-hourly 7.30am-6.30pm. On the primary day of walk-outs, 30 September, the Piccadilly Line of the London Underground gives an inexpensive (£5.60) and efficient method to attain the centre of the capital.
On the second Aslef strike day, 4 October, the Tube can be virtually fully closed. The Elizabeth Line is a swift and costlier (£13.30) various. It is probably going to be extraordinarily busy.
Gatwick: The Gatwick Express is suspended, however Southern can be working a comparable (and cheaper) nonstop shuttle service between London Victoria and Gatwick airport, from 6am to 11.30am.
Stansted: Hourly to/from London Liverpool St, 5am-11pm. Trains are doubtless to be extraordinarily busy.
Luton: No service,
Birmingham: Hourly Transport for Wales trains between International station (for the airport), Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, with companies persevering with to Aberystwyth or Holyhead through Chester.
Manchester: Hourly Transport for Wales trains between the airport and central Manchester, Chester and North Wales. These are doubtless to be extraordinarily crowded.
In addition, TransPennine Express is working rail-replacement buses on 30 September solely between Manchester airport, Stockport and Huddersfield.
Southampton: No service.
Is Eurostar affected?
No, however connections to and from the train operator’s most important hub at London St Pancras International can be tough due to industrial action wiping out all companies on all three home train operators on the station (East Midlands Railway, Southeastern and Thameslink).
Why is Aslef calling its members out on strike?
Mick Whelan, Aslef’s normal secretary, advised The Independent: “This is a political dispute caused by the government. If it had been an industrial dispute left solely to the employers and the unions, I think it would have been resolved by now.”
He referred to as the modifications stipulated as a part of the deal as “basically a land grab for terms and conditions right across the board for a 20 per cent pay cut.”
He mentioned: “That isn’t going to happen. This is going to go on until the government give us a solution.”
What does the RMT say?
The fundamental place as acknowledged by the overall secretary, Mick Lynch, is: “Our industrial campaign will continue as long as it takes to get a negotiated settlement.”
But on the day of the latest RMT strike, Saturday 26 August, Mr Lynch wrote to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), representing train operators, with a extra conciliatory tone. He mentioned: “I believe that both parties are of the view that we need to navigate a way through the dispute.”
He outlined a “road map” that features:
- Backdating a pay rise for 2022-2023, with negotiations for 2023-2024 to begin on 1 December 2023.
- A assure of no obligatory redundancies.
- Deferring additional discussions on altering working preparations till 1 December 2023 on the earliest.
- “Workforce Reform” proposals ought to be negotiated with particular person train operators.
Mr Lynch mentioned: “All of the change agenda that the companies wish to propose will be known in full and then addressed appropriately through the respective machineries in each of the companies.”
What do the train operators say?
A spokesperson for the RDG, representing train operators, mentioned in response to the train drivers’ strike announcement: “Further strike action by the Aslef management will trigger extra disruption to passengers.
“We need to give our workers a pay improve, however it has at all times been linked to implementing essential, wise reforms that may improve companies for our passengers.
“The union have rejected a good and inexpensive provide with out placing it to their members, which might take common driver base salaries for a four-day week with out time beyond regulation from £60,000 to practically £65,000.
“We ask the Aslef management and govt to recognise the very actual monetary problem the trade is going through and work with us to ship a extra dependable and sturdy railway for the longer term.”
The prospect of a settlement within the dispute between the RDG and the RMT union is trying extra optimistic. An RDG spokesperson mentioned: “Exploratory conversations with the RMT are continuing.” That is likely to be “talks about talks” – however with no industrial action taken or deliberate by the RMT on nationwide rail since early September, the train operators’ relations are clearly hotter than with Aslef.
What does the federal government say?
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport mentioned: “The authorities has facilitated honest and affordable provides to each RMT and Aslef. RMT members working for Network Rail accepted their provide months in the past and Aslef’s would convey the typical train driver’s wage up to £65,000.
“Further strike action won’t solely put a pressure on taxpayers, however danger driving passengers away from the community for good. These strikes won’t forestall the need for important office reforms.”
I’ve a ticket booked for a day hit by strikes. What can I do?
Passengers with Advance, Anytime or Off-Peak tickets can have their ticket refunded with no payment if the train that the ticket is booked for is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.
Train operators are doubtless to provide flexibility to journey on a variety of non-strike days.
Passengers with season tickets who don’t journey can declare compensation for the strike dates by means of Delay Repay.
What are the options?
As at all times, long-distance coach operators – National Express, Megabus and FlixBus – will preserve working, although seats have gotten scarce and fares are rising.