Rail passengers face fresh disruption amid train drivers

Train drivers are staging a week-long overtime ban in a dispute over pay, threatening more disruption to rail services.

Members of Aslef at 15 train companies in England will refuse to work overtime from Monday to Saturday and again from 7-12 August.

The services affected include Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, Cross Country, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Island Line, LNER, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway main line, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains.

It follows strikes last week by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union which crippled services.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “We don’t want to take this action, because we don’t want people to be inconvenienced, but the train companies, and the government which stands behind them, have forced us into this place because they refuse to sit down and talk to us and have not made a fair and sensible pay offer to train drivers who have not had one for four years – since 2019 – while prices have soared in that time by more than 12%.”

Mr Whelan said an offer made in April was for a 4% pay increase, with a further rise dependent on drivers giving up terms and conditions.

“We have not heard a word from the employers since then – we haven’t had a meeting, or a phone call, a text message, nor an email – for the three months, and we haven’t sat down with the government since January 6.

“That shows how little the companies and the government care about passengers and staff. They are happy to let this go on and on.”

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He added: “We are determined to get a proper increase for men and women who haven’t had one for four years while inflation has been roaring away.

“Our members, perfectly reasonably, want to be able to buy now what they could buy back in 2019.”

TransPennine Express warned its customers to prepare for disruption, including delays and short-notice cancellations.

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Customer service and operations director Kathryn O’Brien said: “We are disappointed that this action will have such an impact on our customers’ journeys.

“We are anticipating significant disruption to our services for the next two weeks and I’m asking all our customers to be prepared for delays and cancellations across the network.

“We expect the disruption to be widespread and I would advise customers to check very carefully before they travel and to allow extra time for any journeys.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The government has met the rail unions, listened to them and facilitated improved offers on pay and reform. The union leaders should put these fair and reasonable offers to their members so this dispute can be resolved.”

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