Train drivers at 11 companies across the country are set to walk out today (November 26) in the latest round of industrial action in a long-standing dispute over low pay. The strike is being led by the Aslef union, and it is likely to disrupt thousands of journeys as people head to Christmas markets and major sporting events.
According to the BBC, Aslef, which represents drivers, wants wages to keep pace with the rising cost of living after talks with rail firms broke down after no pay offer was made. Aslef’s general secretary Mick Whelan said: "We regret that passengers will be inconvenienced for another day. We don’t want to be taking this action.”
The Rail Delivery Group, representing the train companies, said it was "incredibly frustrated" that Aslef’s leadership had decided to take further strike action. A spokesperson said: "We regret Aslef’s decision, which will cause real disruption to passengers and hit its members’ pay packets.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said that the strike action was "disappointing and "unproductive”, particularly due to its timing during the World Cup football tournament and a busy retail period.
A spokesperson said: "This dispute has gone on far too long and is not only causing disarray in people’s lives, but is harming the economy too. We urge union leaders to reconsider this action and instead work with employers, not against them, to agree a new way forward. The future of our railway depends on it.”
The latest wave of action however did not affect London Overground, who has suspended its strike while union members consider a new pay offer. Below is the list of services which are affected by the industrial action on Saturday (November 26).
Rail companies involved in the latest strike action
- Avanti West Coast - no services on the day
- Chiltern Railways - no services
- CrossCountry - no services
- East Midlands Railway - no services
- Great Western Railway - an "extremely limited" service
- Greater Anglia - "heavily reduced" service
- London North Eastern Railway - "limited" service
- Northern Trains - no services
- Southeastern - no services
- Transpennine Express - "very limited" service
- West Midlands Trains - no services
Heathrow Express and London Northwestern Railway are also expected to be affected, and passengers are advised to check services before travelling and to allow extra time. Meanwhile, Great Western Railway (GWR), which will only run a very limited service, has advised customers who are going to Christmas markets or major sporting events to avoid taking the train.
As a result, no GWR trains will serve Bath Spa during the city’s Christmas market, which begins today. Meanwhile, fans travelling to Cardiff for Wales’ Autumn Internationals Rugby match against Australia or Twickenham for England’s match against South Africa have also been warned not to use the rail service.
Why are train drivers striking?
The latest Aslef strike follows four previous 24-hour strikes by drivers, which resulted in train cancellations and delays. This year has seen extensive rail disruption, with the RMT union also striking at Network Rail and 14 train operators. Previous RMT strikes have had a significant impact on services in England, Scotland, and Wales.
The dispute concerns working conditions, pensions, and pay, as prices are rising at a rate of more than 11% per year, the fastest in 40 years. As a result, workers’ living expenses are rising faster than their income, leaving them worse off. The RMT union has said that fresh rail strikes will take place during four 48-hour periods on December 13 to 14, and 16 to 17, as well as January 3 to 4 and 6 to 7.