Nationwide rail strikes by practice drivers will enter a 3rd summer time with a collection of “rolling” walk-outs, one area at a time, throughout Might.

Members of the Aslef union goal to halt 1000’s of trains on 7, 8 and 9 Might 2024 – with commuters who usually go to the workplace on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday among the many targets.

The goal is to disrupt companies on the 14 rail corporations in England which can be managed by the UK authorities and represented by the Rail Supply Group (RDG). Rolling strikes trigger most disruption for minimal lack of pay.

As well as, six days of extra time bans will trigger additional cancellations from 6 to 11 Might. The primary day is the early Might financial institution vacation, whereas the final coincides with Take That performing in Manchester.

The earlier nationwide industrial motion by practice drivers, comprising an extra time ban and rolling regional walk-outs, hit passengers in April.

Industrial motion by Aslef practice drivers of their dispute over pay and dealing preparations started in July 2022. The union is demanding a no-strings pay award, however rail corporations – directed by ministers – say any improve is contingent on radical reforms to working practices with a view to cut back public subsidies.

Through the dispute, a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of journeys have been cancelled. Billions of kilos have been misplaced to the UK financial system – notably hospitality companies.

Taxpayers are pumping money into an more and more decrepit and unreliable railway to the tune of £90 per second on prime of the traditional subsidy. Over the course of a yr, that quantities to £2.8bn in addtional public money.

The quarrel has turn out to be more and more bitter, with no signal of any progress in direction of a settlement.

Caught in the course of a seemingly intractable dispute: the passenger. In a snap social media ballot for The Impartial that garnered 2,142 responses, one in three passengers say they’ll completely journey much less after the economic motion lastly ends.

For passengers, these are the important thing questions and solutions.

Which rail corporations are concerned?

Aslef is in dispute with the 14 practice working firms (TOCs) which can be contracted by the UK authorities to supply rail companies. They’re:

Intercity operators:


East Midlands Railway

Nice Western Railway (GWR)

TransPennine Categorical

Southeast England commuter operators:


Better Anglia

GTR (Gatwick Categorical, Nice Northern, Southern, Thameslink)


South Western Railway (together with the Island Line on the Isle of Wight)

Operators specializing in the north of England, the Midlands and hyperlinks from London

Chiltern Railways

Northern Trains

West Midlands Railway (together with London Northwestern Railway)

When are the practice drivers strolling out?

Drivers belonging to the Aslef union will strike within the following sample:

Tuesday 7 Might

C2C, Better Anglia, Nice Northern, Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Categorical, South Western Railway. Commuters round London comprise the principle goal.

Wednesday 8 Might

Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, East Midlands Railway, Nice Western Railway, West Midlands Railway and CrossCountry. The goal is to trigger most disruption on key intercity strains in addition to Midland commuter companies.

Thursday 9 Might

LNER, Northern and TransPennine Categorical. That is aimed toward customers of the East Coast primary line and passengers within the North of England and southern Scotland.

What are the anticipated results at every operator?

The Night time Riviera sleeper practice and the Gatwick Categorical might be cancelled all through the economic motion interval.

For different operators, these are the possible service patterns – although travellers ought to test shortly earlier than their deliberate journeys. The place trains are working, the traditional hours of operation are prone to be curtailed.

Tuesday 7 Might

Better Anglia will run to and from London Liverpool Avenue to Stansted airport, Southend, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich.

Southern will run a shuttle service between London Victoria and Gatwick airport.

Thameslink will run a shuttle service between London St Pancras and Luton (city and airport stations).

Nice Northern will run a shuttle service between London King’s Cross and Cambridge.

South Western Railway will run between London Waterloo, Woking and Guildford, with another suburban companies probably.

Southeastern will passengers to not journey, however is prone to run companies between London St Pancras and Ashford on the high-speed line; Charing Cross and Orpington; and London Bridge and Dartford.

C2C will cancel all companies.

Wednesday 8 Might

5 practice operators – Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Railway and CrossCountry – are prone to cancel all practice companies.

GWR will run no long-distance trains, however will join Studying with Oxford and Basingstoke, in addition to a hyperlink from Bristol to Cardiff and a few department routes in Devon and Cornwall.

Thursday 9 Might

Northern and TransPennine Categorical will cancel all companies. LNER will run a skeleton service on core strains between round 7am and 7pm. Its primary Edinburgh-Newcastle-York-London line may have no less than one practice an hour, with some further trains on the southern a part of the community.

What in regards to the extra time ban?

Members are additionally refusing to work their relaxation days from Monday 6 to Saturday 11 Might, inclusive. As many rail corporations depend upon drivers working extra time, a whole bunch – presumably 1000’s – of trains might be cancelled.

Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Railway: a diminished timetable will run on every day of the strike ban.

GWR says the extra time ban “is prone to trigger some short-notice alterations and cancellations, particularly at weekends or late at evening”.

Which rail corporations usually are not concerned?

Some publicly funded practice operators will run usually: ScotRail, Transport for Wales, Transport for London (together with the Elizabeth line) and Merseyrail.

“Open-access” operators on the East Coast primary line – Grand Central, Hull Trains and Lumo – are unaffected. However lots of their companies might be crowded on days of commercial motion. They duplicate journeys of strike-hit firms, together with LNER, TransPennine Categorical, CrossCountry and Northern.

What’s at stake within the dispute?

The practice drivers demand a pay rise to mirror excessive ranges of inflation since they final gained a pay award; Aslef says some members haven’t had a rise for 5 years.

However the authorities insists that even a modest pay improve is contingent on radical modifications to long-standing working preparations with a view to cut back prices – and the massive subsidies the railway is at present receiving from the taxpayer.

For the reason that pandemic, journey patterns have modified. Ticket income is about one-fifth down on pre-Covid ranges. As taxpayers will foot the eventual invoice for the practice drivers’ pay rise, the Treasury in addition to the Division for Transport will log out any deal.

Ministers consider practice drivers’ phrases and circumstances are a part of the issue. To maintain prices down, they need to settle for modifications to how they work, similar to making Sunday a part of the working week in all places.

On 27 April 2023 the Rail Supply Group provided a pay improve of 4 plus 4 per cent over two years masking the 2022 and 2023 pay awards – topic to a bunch of modifications on phrases and circumstances, masking a variety of points together with driver coaching, Sunday working, sick pay and new know-how.

The union say that is utterly unacceptable. The practice drivers will negotiate on modifications, however solely after they get an honest no-strings pay supply on prime of their present pay.

They consider the cash might be discovered to fulfill their calls for, because it all the time has been prior to now. Aslef has additionally all the time “bought” reforms to working preparations for an additional few per cent on their pay and does intend to alter that course of.

In the meantime, the corrosion in confidence amongst travellers continues, with no rail passenger capable of plan journeys greater than two weeks forward – that being the minimal discover the union should give for industrial motion.

What does the union say?

The final secretary of Aslef, Mick Whelan, stated: “It’s now a yr since we sat in a room with the practice firms – and a yr since we rejected the risible supply they made and which they admitted, privately, was designed to be rejected.”

He stated that negotiations had been final held on 26 April 2024.

“Since then practice drivers have voted, repeatedly, to take motion to get a pay rise. That’s why Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, is being disingenuous when he says that supply ought to have been put to members. Drivers wouldn’t vote to strike in the event that they thought a proposal was acceptable. They don’t. And that supply – now a yr outdated – is lifeless within the water.

“Our pay offers at these firms ran out in 2019. Prepare drivers at these TOCs haven’t had a rise in wage for 5 years. That’s utterly improper. The employers – and the federal government – assume we’re going to quit and run away. They’re improper. Within the phrases of Tom Petty, we gained’t again down…”

What do the employers and authorities say?

A Division for Transport spokesperson stated earlier than the most recent strike announcement: “Aslef is the one rail union persevering with to strike, concentrating on passengers and stopping their very own members from voting on the pay supply that continues to be on the desk.

“Having resolved disputes with all different rail unions, the Transport Secretary and Rail Minister have ensured {that a} pay supply is on the desk – taking practice drivers’ common salaries from £60,000 as much as £65,000.”

A spokesperson for Rail Supply Group stated: “This wholly pointless strike motion known as by the Aslef management will sadly disrupt clients and companies as soon as once more, whereas additional damaging the railway at a time when taxpayers are persevering with to contribute an additional £54m every week simply to maintain companies working.

“We proceed to hunt a good settlement with the Aslef management which each rewards our folks, offers our clients extra dependable companies and makes positive the railway isn’t taking greater than its justifiable share from taxpayers.”

When will the strikes lastly be over?

The working assumption is now that it’s going to take a change of presidency. No prime minister since Margaret Thatcher has demonstrated such contempt for Britain’s railway as Rishi Sunak. On the eve of the COP26 local weather summit in Glasgow, he introduced the halving of Air Passenger Obligation on home routes – encouraging travellers to change from rail to air.

Tearing up years of cross-party settlement, the prime minister scrapped plans for HS2 north of Birmingham and demanded a swift sell-off of protected land to make sure the mission couldn’t be resurrected. And Mr Sunak has tolerated 18 months of intermittent strikes by practice drivers with no obvious urge for food for a settlement.

What does the Labour Celebration say?

Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, stated: “It’s a staggering dereliction of responsibility that the transport secretary hasn’t obtained across the desk with the unions to attempt to resolve it for the reason that Christmas earlier than final.

“Labour will take an unashamedly totally different strategy to the Tories, and can work with each side to achieve a deal within the pursuits of passengers and staff. If the transport secretary took this wise strategy then maybe we wouldn’t nonetheless be having strikes on our railways.”

How a lot has all of the disruption price?

Based on the RDG, industrial motion from June 2022 up till mid-January 2024 price the rail sector round £775m in misplaced income. That doesn’t embody the affect of the latest strikes and extra time bans, which in all probability add an additional £200m to the losses.

UKHospitality estimates the misplaced enterprise for locations to eat, drink and keep quantities to virtually £5 billion. Kate Nicholls, the organisation’s chief government, says: “Ongoing strike motion hurts companies, prevents folks from attending to work and considerably erodes confidence within the rail community.”

As well as, there may be an unknowable lack of income from passengers who’ve adjusted their existence or discovered various types of transport; companies which have stopped making journeys and are utilizing on-line communication as a substitute; and other people trimming again on journey due to the shortage of certainty.

What in regards to the new minimal service ranges regulation?

Laws now permits the transport secretary to stipulate minimal service ranges (MSLs) on strike days amounting to 40 per cent of the traditional service. The federal government says the Strikes (Minimal Service Ranges) Act 2023 goals “to make sure that the general public can proceed to entry companies that they depend on, throughout strike motion”.

No practice operator is looking for to impose the brand new regulation on the practice drivers’ union. LNER stated it’d achieve this earlier this yr, and opened consultations. Aslef instantly known as a separate five-day strike on LNER alone. Then the practice operator stated it will not require drivers to work, and the strike was known as off.

The Transport Choose Committee has beforehand warned of potential unintended penalties of the laws. The Conservative chair, Iain Stewart, stated: “There’s a threat of MSLs worsening worker-employer relations and that, in consequence, MSLs might find yourself making companies much less dependable.”

The minimal service stage guidelines don’t apply to union bans on non-contractual rest-day working – so there can be no profit in imposing the regulation when an extra time ban is in pressure.


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