Fresh round of train strikes announced by Aslef union

Image above: A South Western Railway train at Chiswick Station

South Western Railway trains will not run on Tuesday 30 January 

A fresh series of strikes has been announced in a development that further escalates the long-standing pay dispute between the train drivers’ union Aslef and 16 UK train companies. The industrial action is set to take place from Tuesday 30 January to Monday 5 February, with different operators facing disruptions each day.

As part of the protest, train drivers belonging to Aslef will also refuse to work overtime from Monday 29 January until Tuesday 6 February. If the strikes go ahead, this will be the third year in a row there has been industrial action.

The schedule of strikes outlines the affected train companies on each designated day.

  • Tuesday 30 January: Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Thameslink, South Western Railway, and SWR Island Line
  • Wednesday 31 January: Northern Trains, Transpennine Express
  • Friday 2 February: Greater Anglia, C2C, LNER
  • Saturday 3 February: West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway
  • Monday 5 February: Great Western, CrossCountry, Chiltern

Ooperators not involved in the industrial action, such as ScotRail and Transport for Wales, are expected to run normal services during the specified strike days.

Historically, many of the affected train companies faced significant disruptions during previous strikes, with some unable to operate any trains. A few have managed to run a limited timetable by employing managers to drive trains.

There will be no strike action on Thursday 1 February or Sunday 4 February, providing a brief respite in the series of planned disruptions.

Images above: Cancelled train notices at Chiswick Station, Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan

Many Aslef members have not had a pay increase for half a decade, says Aslef union 

The Aslef general secretary, Mick Whelan, said:

“We have given the government every opportunity to come to the table but it has now been a year since we had any contact from the Department for Transport [DfT]. It’s clear they do not want to resolve this dispute.

“Many of our members have now not had a single penny increase to their pay in half a decade, during which inflation soared and with it the cost of living. Train drivers didn’t even ask for an increase during the Covid-19 pandemic when they worked throughout as key workers, risking their lives to allow NHS and other workers to travel.”

“Despite the railway’s huge financial challenge, drivers have been made an offer which would take base salaries to nearly £65,000 for a four-day week without overtime – that is well above the national average and significantly more than many of our passengers that have no option to work from home are paid.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said it was “very disappointing” and that Aslef was the only rail union “continuing to strike while refusing to put a fair and reasonable offer to its members”. They added:

“The Aslef leadership should do the right thing and let their members decide their own future, instead of deciding it for them.”

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said:

“Nobody wins when strikes impact lives and livelihoods, and they’re particularly difficult to justify at a time when taxpayers are continuing to contribute an extra £54m a week to keep services running post-Covid.