Commuters face fresh travel misery on the railways on Friday as train drivers stage another strike, leaving swathes of the country with no services all day.
Members of the Aslef and Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) unions will walk out today (3 February) in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.
Rail operators are warning passengers to expect severe disruption, with trains that do run due to start later and finish much earlier than usual – typically between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
Train services between Scotland and England will be severely disrupted on Friday as cross-border services operated by CrossCountry, Transpennine Express and Avanti West Coast will not run. LNER said it will operate an amended service and Lumo, which runs trains between Edinburgh and London, said it will aim to run as many services as possible.
No LNER trains will run any further north than Edinburgh, with trains between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross starting later and finishing earlier than usual. ScotRail has reassured customers that all services would operate as normal this week.
Travel disruption is expected to continue into the weekend, with Saturday morning services on some lines to be affected as rolling stock will not be in the right depots.
The rail industry said it was working hard to keep as many trains running and criticised the rejection of an offer that would give drivers an 8% pay rise over two years, taking average salaries up from nearly £60,000 a year, to almost £65,000.
Simon Weller, assistant general secretary of Aslef, said the dispute was going “backwards” because of the lack of progress in months of talks. He told the PA news agency: “I don’t know whether to point the finger of blame at the ineptitude of the Department for Transport or the Rail Delivery Group.
“We would struggle to recommend a deal of a 4% pay rise for last year and 4% this year if there were no conditions attached, but we are being asked to give up collective bargaining and effectively agree to a no-strike deal. Obviously it was going to be rejected – it was designed to fail.”
Mr Weller said the attitude among Aslef members was “hardening”, but he believed the fault lay squarely with the DfT and train operators and claimed the latest offer would add a “significant” number of contracted hours to a train driver.
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Having made an initial offer which would have taken average driver salaries from £60,000 to nearly £65,000, we had hoped the Aslef leadership would engage constructively to move talks forward, rather than staging more unnecessary strikes. We can only apologise for the disruption.
“To minimise the impact of the Aslef action, we advise passengers to check before they travel, allow extra time and find out when their first and last train will depart.”
The latest strike marks the second walkout by train drivers this week, after they took part in the huge day of industrial action on Wednesday (1 February), which also involved teachers, university staff, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards.
How will the strike affect each train operator?
Listed is a breakdown of each train operator’s plan for Friday as members of Aslef and the RMT unions walk out:
- Caledonian Sleeper
- Elizabeth line
- Grand Central
- Hull Trains
- London Overground
- Transport for Wales
No trains will operate
- Avanti West Coast
- Chiltern Railways
- East Midlands Railway
- Gatwick Express
- Great Northern
- Heathrow Express
- London Northwestern Railway
- TransPennine Express
- West Midlands Railway
Great Western Railway
An extremely limited service will operate, and only between 7.30am and 7.30pm. The only routes served by trains will be:
- between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads
- between Bristol Temple Meads and Cardiff
- between Reading and Basingstoke, Oxford and Redhill
- between Swindon and Westbury
- between Exeter St Davids and Exmouth and Paignton
- between Plymouth and Gunnislake
- between Penzance and St Ives
A very limited service will operate with one train per hour in each direction between London Liverpool Street and each of Norwich, Colchester, Cambridge and Southend Victoria. Services will start from 8am and finish earlier than usual. No other routes will be served by trains.
London North Eastern Railway
An extremely limited timetable will operate. It will run just five trains in each direction between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh, with a handful of other services.
South Western Railway
No trains will operate on the Isle of Wight. South Western Railway intended to run a full service on the mainland but said it was “reviewing our plans” after suffering disruption during a similar walkout on Wednesday when drivers not part of the strike refused to cross picket lines.
One train per hour will run in each direction between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.