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

Members of the Aslef union purpose to halt hundreds of trains on 7, 8 and 9 Could 2024 – with commuters who usually go to the workplace on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday among the many targets.

The purpose is to disrupt providers 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.

Closing time: GWR poster at Bathtub station saying the earlier spherical of stoppages (Simon Calder)

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

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

Industrial motion by Aslef prepare 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 enhance is contingent on radical reforms to working practices with a purpose to scale back public subsidies.

Throughout the dispute, a whole lot of tens of millions of journeys have been cancelled. Billions of kilos have been misplaced to the UK economic 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 12 months, 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 may completely journey much less after the commercial 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 prepare working corporations (TOCs) which can be contracted by the UK authorities to offer rail providers. They’re:

Intercity operators:


East Midlands Railway

Nice Western Railway (GWR)

TransPennine Categorical

Southeast England commuter operators:


Higher 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 prepare drivers strolling out?

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

Tuesday 7 Could

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

Wednesday 8 Could

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

Thursday 9 Could

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

What are the expected results at every operator?

The Night time Riviera sleeper prepare from London to Penzance and the Gatwick Categorical from London to the Sussex airport might be cancelled all through the commercial motion interval.

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

Disruption can also be seemingly on days earlier than and after strike days. TransPennine Categorical says: “Plan fastidiously for any rail journeys as providers could begin later and end sooner than regular.”

Tuesday 7 Could

Higher Anglia will run to and from London Liverpool Road 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 providers seemingly.

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

C2C will cancel all providers.

Wednesday 8 Could

5 prepare operators – Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Railway and CrossCountry – are more likely to cancel all prepare providers.

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. The corporate says: “Many elements of the GWR community may have no service in any respect and trains which can be working will solely be working for a restricted interval throughout the day.”

Thursday 9 Could

Northern and TransPennine Categorical will cancel all providers. LNER will run a skeleton service on core strains between round 7am and 7pm. Its principal Edinburgh-Newcastle-York-London line may have at the very least one prepare an hour, with some extra trains on the southern a part of the community.

What concerning the additional time ban?

Members are additionally refusing to work their relaxation days from Monday 6 to Saturday 11 Could, inclusive. As many rail corporations rely upon drivers working additional time, a whole lot – presumably hundreds – of trains might be cancelled.

Higher Anglia, Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Railway will run a decreased timetable on every day of the additional time ban.

GWR usually says the additional time ban will trigger “some short-notice alterations and cancellations, particularly at weekends or late at night time”.

However Southeastern says: “We anticipate to run our full service throughout this time, aside from Tuesday 7 Could, which is the strike day on our community.”

Which rail corporations aren’t concerned?

Some publicly funded prepare 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 principal line – Grand Central, Hull Trains and Lumo – are unaffected. However lots of their providers might be crowded on days of business motion. They duplicate journeys of strike-hit corporations, together with LNER, TransPennine Categorical, CrossCountry and Northern.

What’s at stake within the dispute?

The prepare drivers demand a pay rise to replicate 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 enhance is contingent on radical adjustments to long-standing working preparations with a purpose to scale back prices – and the massive subsidies the railway is at present receiving from the taxpayer.

Because the 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 prepare drivers’ pay rise, the Treasury in addition to the Division for Transport will log out any deal.

Ministers imagine prepare drivers’ phrases and situations are a part of the issue. To maintain prices down, they have to settle for adjustments to how they work, resembling making Sunday a part of the working week in every single place.

On 27 April 2023 the Rail Supply Group provided a pay enhance of 4 plus 4 per cent over two years overlaying the 2022 and 2023 pay awards – topic to a number of adjustments on phrases and situations, overlaying a variety of points together with driver coaching, Sunday working, sick pay and new expertise.

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

They imagine the cash might be discovered to fulfill their calls for, because it at all times has been prior to now. Aslef has additionally at all times “offered” 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 do the employers and authorities say?

A spokesperson for Rail Supply Group mentioned: “This wholly pointless strike motion known as by the Aslef management will sadly disrupt prospects 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 providers working.

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

A Division for Transport spokesperson mentioned: “Aslef’s management are performing like a damaged file – calling for strike motion time and time once more whereas remaining the one rail union persevering with to strike, in addition to the one union refusing to place a good and affordable pay supply to its members for over a 12 months.

“The transport secretary and rail minister have accomplished their half to facilitate this pay offer- one which might take prepare drivers’ salaries as much as a mean of £65,000 which is nearly twice the typical wage within the UK.

“Aslef bosses ought to take the lead of the opposite rail unions, put this supply to their members and cease their marketing campaign of contempt for passengers.”

What does the union say?

The overall secretary of Aslef, Mick Whelan, mentioned: “It’s now a 12 months since we sat in a room with the prepare corporations – and a 12 months since we rejected the risible supply they made and which they admitted, privately, was designed to be rejected.”

He mentioned that negotiations have been final held on 26 April 2024.

“Since then prepare 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 12 months outdated – is useless within the water.

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

When will the strikes lastly be over?

The working assumption is now that it’ll 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 Responsibility 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 venture couldn’t be resurrected. And Mr Sunak has tolerated 18 months of intermittent strikes by prepare drivers with no obvious urge for food for a settlement.

What does the Labour Social gathering say?

Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, mentioned: “It’s a staggering dereliction of responsibility that the transport secretary hasn’t bought 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 succeed in 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 value?

In response to the RDG, industrial motion from June 2022 up till mid-January 2024 value the rail sector round £775m in misplaced income. That doesn’t embody the impression of the latest strikes and additional time bans, which most likely add an extra £200m to the losses.

UKHospitality estimates the misplaced enterprise for locations to eat, drink and keep quantities to nearly £5 billion. Kate Nicholls, the organisation’s chief govt, 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 life or discovered different types of transport; companies which have stopped making journeys and are utilizing on-line communication as a substitute; and folks trimming again on journey due to the shortage of certainty.

What concerning 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 providers that they depend on, throughout strike motion”.

No prepare operator is searching for to impose the brand new regulation on the prepare drivers’ union. LNER mentioned it’d accomplish that earlier this 12 months, and opened consultations. Aslef instantly known as a separate five-day strike on LNER alone. Then the prepare operator mentioned it might 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, mentioned: “There’s a danger of MSLs worsening worker-employer relations and that, because of this, MSLs might find yourself making providers 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 additional time ban is in pressure.


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