Train drivers are to go on strike in a long-running dispute over pay in the coming days, with members of the Aslef union at 16 operators walking out.
There will also be several days of an overtime ban, one of which is today.
When are the train drivers’ strikes?
The strikes will take place on Saturday 30 September and Wednesday 4 October, coinciding with the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
There are also overtime bans across the UK rail network on Friday 29 September and from Monday 2 October to Friday 6 October.
Aslef said the strikes will force train operating companies to cancel all services, while the ban on overtime will seriously disrupt the network.
Who is on strike?
The 16 train operators affected by the strikes are:
- Avanti West Coast
- Chiltern Railways
- East Midlands Railway
- Greater Anglia
- GTR Great Northern Thameslink
- Great Western Railway
- Island Line
- Northern Trains
- Southern/Gatwick Express
- South Western Railway
- TransPennine Express
- West Midlands Trains
Why are train drivers striking?
Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, said: “While we regret having to take this action – we don’t want to lose a day’s pay, or disrupt passengers, as they try to travel by train – the Government, and the employers, have forced us into this position.
“Our members have not had a pay rise for four years – since 2019 – and that’s not right when prices have soared in that time.
“Train drivers, perfectly reasonably, want to be able to buy now what they could buy four years ago.”
The union has said train companies have always failed to employ enough drivers to provide a proper service.
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, a membership organisation for the rail industry, said: “Our offer to Aslef would take average driver salaries to £65,000 for a four-day week – that’s more than double the average UK salary and many drivers top up their income further by working overtime.
“We are ready and willing to talk to Aslef’s leaders so we can end this damaging dispute but any talks about pay also need to address working practices that date back decades.
“The industry depends on a monthly injection of up to £175m from the taxpayer because revenues are still 30 per cent below pre-pandemic levels – while simultaneously facing unprecedented changes in customer travel patterns.
“It is obvious that the sector can only fund a pay rise by changing how it delivers services so it can respond to that transformation in how the public use the railway.
“That means putting managers – rather than unions – in charge of planning shifts.
“It means allowing managers to respond to unexpected staff absences so they can reduce the last-minute cancellations that so frustrate our customers.
“It means giving our customers more reliable train services when they actually want to use them – particularly on Sundays. That is how any industry survives and thrives.”
What has the Government said?
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The Government spent £31bn of taxpayers’ money – £1,000 per household – to protect rail workers’ jobs during the pandemic.
“There is a fair and reasonable offer on the table that would take train drivers’ salaries from £60,000 to £65,000 for a 35-hour, four-day week.
“Aslef’s leaders won’t put this offer to their members and instead continue to strike – damaging their own industry in the process.”