Rail passengers will face huge disruption or be unable to travel today as train drivers from nine operating companies stage a 24-hour strike, disrupting services in many parts of England, Scotland and Wales.
Thousands of members of the Aslef union are on strike in the latest industrial action in a deadlocked dispute over wages and the ‘modernisation’ of the railway.
The strike stopped most intercity trains between London and the Midlands, northern England and Scotland, and south Wales. Parts of the UK, including the West Midlands, South West England and Kent, will have no trains running today.
Rail operators have warned passengers to avoid traveling on affected routes. Those attempting to travel should be prepared for busy trains and possible last-minute cancellations, with the effects expected to linger into the first half of Sunday.
Drivers will strike at Arriva Rail London, Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, London North Eastern Railway (LNER), West Midlands Trains and Southeastern.
The strike means no trains will run at all on Saturday on London Overground, CrossCountry, Southeastern, West Midlands Trains, London Northwestern Railway and Avanti West Coast.
Very limited services will operate on Hull Trains, Great Western Railway, LNER and the Greater Anglia network, including the Stansted Express airport service.
The rail industry has called on the unions to continue the talks. Steve Montgomery, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, said while passenger numbers had not returned to pre-pandemic levels, “ensuring a bright future means we have to adapt”.
Aslef’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, said he would continue to speak, but the government was ordering companies to limit wages well below inflation.
He said he had traveled the country to speak to drivers ahead of the strike – the second nationwide strike coordinated by Aslef this summer – and that its members were “fully prepared and understood that we could be here for the long haul”. .
Saturday’s action is the first in a week of strikes by four separate transport unions that will dramatically reduce rail services. Trains will also be disrupted for four days from Thursday as 40,000 members of Network Rail’s RMT union and 14 train operators stage two 24-hour strikes on August 18 and 20. Several thousand Network Rail TSSA members and seven train operators will also take action on the same day.
The lack of flaggers will only allow about a fifth of the usual schedule to operate on strike days, while services should not resume properly until late morning on the following days.
London transport will also be disrupted on the day between national rail strikes, August 19, when RMT members and some Unite members of Transport for London and London Overground go on strike. Most Tube and London Overground services in the capital will not operate. Parts of the city will also be left without buses, as 1,600 west London drivers from the Unite union will go on strike for two days from August 19.