Rail passengers are forced to SLEEP at stations as train drivers go on 24-hour strike at NINE train firms across the country while bosses beg union barons to attend talks
- Travellers wake up to chaos at major London stations as nine firms go on strike
- Members of Aslef at nine major firms will walk out for the next 24 hours
- Football fans, tourists and holidaymakers’ plans all set to be ruined by strike
- Labour MPs Barry Gardiner and Dawn Butler both pictured at picket lines today
Rail passengers were forced to sleep at stations as train drivers today begin their 24-hour strike while bosses beg militant union barons to attend crunch talks to end the summer of discontent.
Bleary-eyed travellers were spotted waking up to fresh chaos at London‘s Paddington station, while the shutters were closed at London Euston and commuter stations across the country as nine rail firms today went on strike.
Members of Aslef at nine train companies will walk out for 24 hours, crippling large parts of the network, with major parts of the country having no available services.
Train firms have warned customers to expect busy carriages and unexpected delays as reduced services will run throughout the day – while large swathes of the country will lose access to the rail network until Sunday.
Football fans, tourists and holidaymakers are among the tens of thousands of passengers whose plans will be ruined by Saturday’s industrial action.
Coldplay fans were also warned to expect severe disruption if they planned to attend the Grammy award-winning band’s sellout show at Wembley Stadium this evening – having already had to reschedule an earlier concert due to strikes.
Rail passengers were forced to sleep at stations as train drivers today begin their 24-hour strike while bosses beg militant union barons to attend crunch talks to end the summer of discontent
Bleary-eyed travellers were spotted waking up to fresh chaos at London’s Paddington station
Labour MPs Dawn Butler (left) and Barry Gardiner are pictured outside Willesden Green station, London with Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan (right)
Members of Aslef at nine train companies will walk out for 24 hours, crippling large parts of the network, with major parts of the country having no available services
The shutters were closed at London Euston and commuter stations across the country as nine rail firms today went on strike
Hardly any passengers were seen at Reading station in Berkshire on Saturday morning
Union drivers at Avanti West Coast, Arriva Rail London, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, London North Eastern Railway (LNER), West Midlands Trains and Southeastern are among those striking today.
The strike means no trains will run today on London Overground, CrossCountry, Southeastern, West Midlands Trains, London Northwestern Railway and Avanti West Coast.
Aslef will mount picket lines outside railway stations, with officials saying they expect continuing support from the public despite the impact of the action.
Picketing drivers started to gather at Willesden Junction station, north west London, early on Saturday as they trumpeted their disruption by placing banners and posters on a nearby bridge.
Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, warned that more strikes were on the cards should talks over pay and modernisation plans fall through.
He said: ‘We don’t want to go on strike – strikes are always a last resort – but the companies, and the Government, have forced our hand.
‘We don’t want to inconvenience passengers because our friends and families use public transport too, because we believe in building trust in the railways in Britain, and because we don’t want to lose money by taking industrial action.
‘The companies have said that they cannot, or will not, give our members an increase.
‘They blame the Government – a result, they say, of the dodgy deals they did when the franchises were turned into management contracts – while the Government says it’s down to the train operators. So we are caught in a Catch-22 situation where each side blames the other.’
Union drivers at Avanti West Coast, Arriva Rail London, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, London North Eastern Railway (LNER), West Midlands Trains and Southeastern are among those striking today
An empty train line and platform at Reading station in Berkshire
Steve Montgomery, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, said: ‘The Aslef leadership has for the second time in as many weeks decided to impose yet more uncertainty for passengers and businesses by disrupting passengers’ weekend plans.
‘My open invitation for talks with Aslef stands. The railway is too important to this country to allow decline but, with passenger numbers still 20% below pre-pandemic levels, securing a bright future means we have to adapt to attract more people back.
‘We call on Aslef to come to the table, so we can fund the pay rise we want to give our people while delivering the improvements in Sunday services and greater punctuality our passengers deserve.
‘While we will do all that we can to minimise disruption and to get people where they need to be, if you are going to travel on the routes affected, please plan ahead and check the latest travel advice and be aware that services may start later the morning after strikes.’
Members of the RMT and TSSA unions will strike on August 18 and 20 while industrial action will be taken on August 19 by London Underground and London bus drivers.
Meanwhile, a row continued to rage over cuts to Sunday services on Avanti West Coast, which the company and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps blamed on unofficial action by Aslef, which the union strongly denied.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said of timetable changes announced by the company: ‘People deserve certainty and confidence that their train will run on time, and while this move was unavoidable, it should minimise the fallout for passengers.
‘This is a prime example of why we need to modernise our railways, so that passengers benefit from reliable timetables which don’t rely on the good will of drivers volunteering to work overtime in the first place.’
The Department for Transport said it was ‘entirely false’ to claim the Government was blocking negotiations.
‘We have said from the outset we urge the unions and industry to agree a deal that is fair for railway staff, passengers and taxpayers.’
The department pointed out that £16 billion was spent to keep the railway running during the height of the pandemic, adding that without that support there was a risk companies would have collapsed, and thousands of jobs could have been lost.
Rail workers have seen above average pay increases over the past decade, with their wages increasing by around 25% from £35,000 in 2011 to £44,000 in 2021, said the department, adding that rail staff pay increases must be ‘fair and in line with the wider public sector.’
Rail operators release a reduced timetable to combat Aslef’s strike
Rail operators have released timetables for reduced services on Saturday, when members of the train drivers’ union Aslef go on strike.
Although the walkout directly affects just nine companies, others have warned that the knock-on effect could cause significant disruption.
A breakdown of the impact across the rail operators is as follows.
Avanti West Coast
All services across Avanti West Coast routes have been cancelled.
The company is ‘strongly’ advising customers to avoid travelling unless they have to, given a knock-on effect from other operators.
Busy trains, short-notice cancellations and delays are all thought to be likely.
A reduced service of one train per hour is running on the Aylesbury Vale Parkway – Marylebone route between noon and 8pm.
CrossCountry will not run any services on Saturday.
Although its drivers are not striking, services are likely to be ‘impacted’ given industrial action on London Overground and Southeastern.
Great Western Railway
A limited service will operate between Bristol Temple Meads – London Paddington, Reading – Oxford and Reading – Basingstoke.
Timetables will start later and finish earlier than normal.
Greater Anglia has asked customers to avoid travelling with their ‘heavily reduced and disrupted’ service.
One train per hour will run in each direction between London – Norwich, London – Colchester, Southend Victoria – Liverpool Street, and Liverpool Street – Stansted Airport.
All Heathrow Express services have been cancelled.
A ‘significantly reduced’ timetable is running, consisting of one service to and from King’s Cross.
London North Eastern Railway
No trains are running north from Edinburgh Waverley, while southbound trains are restricted to one every two hours.
No trains are running north from Leeds, while just one train is running south to London King’s Cross.
One northbound train per hour is running from King’s Cross, while one northbound and one southbound train is running every two hours from Newcastle.
London Northwestern Railway
No London Northwestern Railway services are running.
Although services are running as normal, strikes affecting other operators could make trains busier than normal.
All Southeastern services have been cancelled.
Southern drivers are not involved in Aslef’s strike, but services may be ‘impacted’ given disruption on London Overground and Southeastern.
Stansted Express have advised customers to avoid travelling on Saturday.
One train each way is running between Stansted Airport and London Liverpool Street every hour.
Engineering work means there will be a bus during the journey between Waltham Cross and Harlow Town.
Transport for Wales
Although not directly affected by strikes, services are likely to be hit by the reduced timetable of other operators.
Customers have been advised to avoid non-essential travel between Carmarthen – Newport, Cardiff – Lydney, Shrewsbury – Wolverhampton, and North Wales Coast, since trains are expected to be busy.
West Midlands Railway
No West Midlands Railway services are running on Saturday.