The train drivers’ union, Aslef, has introduced the next spherical of industrial action in its lengthy and bitter dispute with 14 English train operators over pay, jobs and working situations. Drivers will stroll out on Saturday 30 September and Wednesday 4 October, triggering the cancellation of 1000’s of trains on every day and wrecking hundreds of thousands of deliberate journeys.
In addition the union has introduced an additional time ban on Friday 29 September and from Monday 2 to Friday 6 October – disrupting rail journey for over every week. The strikes are timed to hit the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, which begins on Sunday 1 October – the day after the first walk-out – and ends on Wednesday 4 October, the day of the second stoppage.
Announcing the strike, Mick Whelan, Aslef’s basic secretary, stated: “While we remorse having to take this action – we don’t need to lose a day’s pay, or disrupt passengers as they struggle to journey by train – the authorities, and the employers have pressured 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 option to purchase now what they might purchase 4 years in the past.”
Caught in the center of the dispute, the long-suffering passenger. This Q&A goals to clarify what lies behind the battle and the seemingly impression of the forthcoming strikes.
When did the industrial action begin?
The first nationwide rail strikes since the 1980s started in June 2022. The unions concerned are Aslef and the RMT, the largest 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 hundreds of thousands of train passengers. Stoppages have been known as continuously, inflicting large disruption and making advance journey planning troublesome.
The RMT has to date staged walk-outs on 33 days in the present wave of nationwide strikes, with Aslef stopping work on 13 earlier events.
The authorities – which contracts the rail corporations to run trains – will log out the remaining settlement. But the unions and administration seem as far aside as ever.
What is the downside?
Both unions are demanding no-strings will increase that bear in mind the excessive degree of inflation. They say they are ready to focus on reforms, however these have to be negotiated individually. They anticipate 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 since the Covid pandemic. The solely approach to award even a modest enhance, the employers keep, is to fund it out of effectivity financial savings.
Which train operators are concerned in the nationwide disputes?
The RMT and Aslef strikes contain the 14 rail corporations 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 throughout the strikes?
Aslef stated of its September and October walk-outs: “The strike will force companies to cancel all services in this country.”
That just isn’t the case.
On each the strike dates, passengers can anticipate regular service on:
- Caledonian Sleeper
- Grand Central
- Heathrow Express
- Hull Trains
- London Overground
- Transport for Wales
Many of the trains that these operators run are seemingly to be extra punctual than regular, as a result of so many different companies might be axed – decreasing the prospect of congestion.
They could, nevertheless, be extra crowded on routes that duplicate strike-hit strains. Transport for Wales companies between Newport, Cardiff and Swansea, and between Crewe and Manchester, may very well be busier than regular.
The three “open access” operators on the East Coast primary line – Grand Central, Hull Trains and Lumo – are additionally seemingly to be busy.
On affected train operators, the seemingly service ranges are listed beneath, with trains that do run typically working between 7.30am and 7pm. Please test 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.
Gatwick Express: No trains however the Southern airport shuttle will cowl the floor.
Thameslink: No trains.
Southwestern: A skeleton community linking London Waterloo with Guildford, Southampton, Ascot and Hampton Court is probably going.
Great Western Railway (GWR): A core service will run between London Paddington and Oxford, Cardiff, Bath and Bristol, together with peak-hour companies on department strains.
CrossNation: No trains.
Chiltern: No trains.
West Midlands Railway: No trains.
Avanti West Coast: No trains.
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, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
Great Northern: Possible skeleton service.
Greater Anglia: Limited service linking London Liverpool Street with Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester; Cambridge; Southend Victoria; and Stansted airport.
In addition to the disruption on strike days, trains on adjoining days could also be affected. Trains on today are additionally seemingly to be extraordinarily busy due to passengers transferring their journeys.
Will the London Underground, Overground and the Elizabeth Line run?
Yes. The Underground, the London Overground and the Elizabeth Line are unaffected by the deliberate industrial action. But some routes that provide options to rail companies hit by industrial action, corresponding to in south London, could also be busier than regular.
Is Eurostar affected?
No, however connections to and from the train operator’s primary hub at London St Pancras International could also be troublesome due to industrial action wiping out all companies on all three home train operators at the station (East Midlands Railway, Southeastern and Thameslink).
Why is Aslef calling its members to strike?
Mick Whelan, Aslef’s basic secretary, informed 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 known 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 stated: “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 primary place as acknowledged by the basic 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 most up-to-date RMT strike, Saturday 26 August, Mr Lynch wrote to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), representing train operators, with a extra conciliatory tone. He stated: “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 at the earliest.
- “Workforce Reform” proposals needs to be negotiated with particular person train operators.
Mr Lynch stated: “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, stated 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 employees a pay enhance, however it has at all times been linked to implementing obligatory, smart reforms that might improve companies for our passengers.
“The union have rejected a good and reasonably priced supply with out placing it to their members, which might take common driver base salaries for a four-day week with out additional time from £60,000 to practically £65,000.
“We ask the Aslef management and government to recognise the very actual monetary problem the trade is dealing with and work with us to ship a extra dependable and sturdy railway for the future.”
What does the authorities say?
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport stated: “The authorities has facilitated honest and affordable presents to each RMT and Aslef. RMT members working for Network Rail accepted their supply months agoand Aslef’s would convey the common train driver’s wage up to £65,000.
“Further strike action is not going to solely put a pressure on taxpayers, however threat driving passengers away from the community for good. These strikes is not going to stop 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 price if the train that the ticket is booked for is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.
Train operators are seemingly to supply 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 Delay Repay.
What are the options?
As at all times, long-distance coach operators – National Express, Megabus and FlixBus – will hold working, although seats are turning into scarce and fares are rising.