The dispute between the prepare drivers’ union, Aslef, and 14 prepare operators in England is into its third calendar yr.
With no settlement in sight to the lengthy and bitter row over pay and dealing preparations, the union has begun its first strikes for 2024.
Prepare drivers belonging to Aslef are stopping work region-by-region over the course of every week between Tuesday 30 January and Monday 5 February. Hundreds of trains can be cancelled on every day.
The impact is exacerbated by a nine-day ban on time beyond regulation operating from 29 January to six February.
Mick Whelan, common secretary of Aslef, says some members haven’t had a pay rise for 5 years – and ministers have refused to have interaction with the union for a yr.
He informed The Impartial: “Any industrial motion is extremely damaging, however after 18 months out on strike, and after a yr with nobody within the authorities or the [train operating] firms speaking to us, we’re pressured to boost the profile of our points.”
Rail minister Huw Merriman informed The Impartial: “Strikes simply maintain the railway again. We consider a good and affordable supply is there on the desk for Aslef in the event that they put it to their members.
“These are prepare drivers that paid a mean £60,000 for a 35-hour, four-day week, That pay deal would take them as much as £65,000.
“We hope that they are going to take the chance to take it. Then we are able to all speak in regards to the positives of rail.”
Individually, the 14 prepare operators have reached a tentative settlement with the RMT union that has put an finish to walk-outs whereas talks proceed on a neighborhood stage. However the RMT has referred to as two 48-hour strikes in February and March on the London Overground.
These are the important thing questions and solutions.
Which rail companies are affected?
Aslef is in dispute with the prepare operators which are contracted by the federal government to offer rail providers. They’re:
Avanti West CoastCrossCountryEast Midlands RailwayGreat Western Railway (GWR)LNERTransPennine Categorical
Southeast England commuter operators:
C2CGreater AngliaGTR (Gatwick Categorical, Nice Northern, Southern, Thameslink)SoutheasternSouth Western Railway (together with the Island Line on the Isle of Wight)
Operators specializing in the Midlands and north of England:
Chiltern RailwaysNorthern TrainsWest Midlands Railway
ScotRail, Transport for Wales, Transport for London (together with the Elizabeth Line), Merseyrail and “open-access” operators comparable to Grand Central, Hull Trains and Lumo are usually not concerned. However their providers are prone to be extraordinarily crowded on stretches the place they duplicate strike-hit firms.
What’s the strike schedule?
Monday 29 January: time beyond regulation ban begins.
Tuesday 30 January: South Western Railway, Southeastern and GTR (Southern, Gatwick Categorical, Nice Northern and Thameslink).
Wednesday 31 January: Northern and TransPennine Categorical.
Thursday 1 February: no strike however time beyond regulation ban continues.
Friday 2 February: Higher Anglia, C2C and LNER.
Saturday 3 February: West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway.
Sunday 4 February: no strike however time beyond regulation ban continues.
Monday 5 February: Nice Western, CrossCountry and Chiltern.
Tuesday 6 February: no strike however time beyond regulation ban continues for a last day.
What are the doubtless results of the strikes?
These predictions are primarily based on newest statements from rail companies and The Impartial’s commentary of earlier strikes. They need to be confirmed earlier than journey.
Nice Northern (30 January): Shuttle service calling at London Kings Cross and Cambridge solely (and possibly branded Thameslink) with restricted working hours.
Thameslink (30 January): Shuttle service calling at St Pancras, Luton Airport Parkway and Luton solely. The agency says its trains “can be extraordinarily busy” and that queueing programs can be in place.
“It’s possible you’ll not be capable of board your chosen service,” says Thameslink. “If you’re planning to journey on one of many final trains of the day, please bear in mind that, relying on the scale of the queue, you could not be capable of board a service in any respect, and no different transport choices can be offered after the final prepare departs. Please plan forward and go away loads of time to succeed in your vacation spot.”
Southern (30 January): No trains besides a nonstop shuttle service between London Victoria and Gatwick airport, from 6am to 11.30pm.
Gatwick Categorical (30 January): The Southern airport shuttle, above, is doing the work.
Southeastern (30 January): No trains.
South Western Railway (30 January): The service is comparatively intensive in contrast with different prepare operators.
As much as 4 stopping trains per hour between London Waterloo and Woking.Hourly semi-fast trains between Waterloo and each Guildford and Basingstoke. A shuttle will run from Basingstoke to Salisbury each 90 minutes.Two trains per hour may even run between Waterloo and Feltham by way of Richmond and Twickenham. No trains on the Isle of Wight.
Northern (31 January): No trains. The operator says that it expects two key routes to be very busy on 3 February when East Midlands Railway is on strike: Leeds-Sheffield-Nottingham and Sheffield-Manchester.
TransPennine Categorical (31 January): No trains. “There can be some alterations to night providers on Tuesday 30 January and to early morning providers on Thursday 1 February,” the corporate says.
C2C (2 February): No trains. The corporate warns: “Upminster automotive park will doubtless turn into full and shut early within the day.” Upminster is the jap finish of the District Line of the London Underground, which can be operating usually.
Higher Anglia (2 February): Restricted service linking London Liverpool Road with Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester; Southend Victoria; Cambridge; and Stansted airport.
LNER (2 February): Common trains on core routes linking London King’s Cross with Doncaster, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh. First trains will depart at round 8am, with most journeys completed by 7pm. Leeds could have a restricted direct service, however connections can be found from Doncaster.
Avanti West Coast (3 February): No trains. The operator says: “Providers on the times both facet of the strike may even be affected.”
East Midlands Railway (3 February): No trains. The prepare agency warns: “No rail alternative bus providers can be offered. Different prepare operators could also be operating a decreased service because of an time beyond regulation ban.”
West Midlands Railway (3 February): No trains, and a warning that providers on Sunday 4 February will see widespread delays and cancellations.
Chiltern (5 February): No trains both on the strike day or on the day prior to this, Sunday 4 February, because the prepare operator depends on drivers working time beyond regulation on Sunday to function any trains in any respect. The time beyond regulation ban means no providers will run.
CrossCountry (5 February): No trains.
Nice Western Railway (5 February): On the precise strike day, a core service will run between London Paddington and Oxford, Bathtub and Bristol, with a hyperlink from Bristol to Cardiff. A restricted service on department traces in Devon and Cornwall. The Night time Riviera sleeper service from London to Penzance won’t run for quite a few nights.
Along with the disruption on strike days, trains on adjoining days could also be affected. Providers on lately are additionally prone to be extraordinarily busy because of passengers transferring their journeys to keep away from industrial motion.
What in regards to the new minimal service ranges regulation?
Laws now permits the transport secretary to stipulate minimal service ranges (MSLs) on strike days amounting to 40 per cent of the traditional service. The federal government says the Strikes (Minimal Service Ranges) Act 2023 goals “to make sure that the general public can proceed to entry providers that they depend on, throughout strike motion.”
No prepare operator is in search of to impose the brand new regulation on the prepare drivers’ union. LNER mentioned it would achieve this, and opened consultations, at which level Aslef referred to as a separate five-day strike on LNER alone. Then the prepare operator mentioned it might not require drivers to work, and the strike was referred to as off.
The BBC experiences that the prime minister is disenchanted that prepare operators had not carried out minimal service ranges. A Downing Road spokesperson mentioned: “Sure, it’s one thing that we and the general public anticipate them to make use of.
“We’ve been repeatedly been clear that this laws is accessible for prepare operators to make use of.”
The Transport Choose Committee has beforehand warned of potential unintended penalties of the laws. The Conservative chair, Iain Stewart, mentioned: “There’s a danger of MSLs worsening worker-employer relations and that, because of this, MSLs might find yourself making providers much less dependable.”
The minimal service stage guidelines don’t apply to union bans on non-contractual rest-day working.
Is there a ‘worst day’?
Sure. When it comes to sheer variety of passengers hit, Tuesday 30 January is probably the most disruptive. It’s aimed toward commuters in southeast England, the vast majority of whom use the affected prepare operators. Usually Southern, Thameslink, Nice Northern, South Western Railway and Southeastern carry round 40 per cent of all passengers.
Intercity travellers can be worst affected on Friday 2 and Saturday 3 February, when the primary operators on the East Coast and West Coast principal traces, plus the Midland principal line, can be hit.
Sunday 4 February can also be prone to be severely disrupted primarily due to the ban on rest-day working. Chiltern Railway, which might usually run trains between London and Birmingham, says no providers will run in any respect because of the time beyond regulation ban.
Disruption can be heightened by deliberate engineering work between Birmingham and Wolverhampton on the West Coast principal line and between London King’s Cross and Stevenage on the East Coast principal line.
What would be the wider impression of the time beyond regulation ban?
The time beyond regulation ban alone will trigger hundreds of cancellations. Aslef says no prepare operator “employs sufficient drivers to offer the service they promise passengers and companies they are going to ship with out asking drivers to work their days off”.
Sunday remains to be not a part of the working week at quite a few prepare operators, so 4 February can be significantly disrupted by the ban on rest-day working.
GWR says: “There can be important disruption to providers and prospects ought to journey on different days. No trains will function on long-distance routes between London Paddington and Bristol, South Wales and Exeter/Plymouth/Penzance.”
A number of rail companies have introduced pre-emptive cancellations because of the earlier time beyond regulation ban, as follows:
C2C: “Severely decreased service” at weekends, with many trains additionally minimize on weekdays.
Chiltern: Considerably decreased service on most routes, with no trains in any respect on some department traces. “Providers on all routes will end sooner than regular.” No trains will run on Sunday 4 February.
Gatwick Categorical: No trains in the course of the time beyond regulation ban. Southern trains will hyperlink London Victoria and Gatwick airport all through the economic motion.
London Northwestern Railway/West Midlands Railway: Department traces between Bletchley and Bedford, Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey, and Leamington Spa and Nuneaton, can be closed on most or all days.
Southern: “An amended timetable with fewer providers will run. Providers could begin later and end sooner than regular.”
Thameslink warns: “A decreased frequency amended timetable can be in operation.”
Some trains could limit both boarding or leaving trains at sure stations to keep away from overcrowding.
What if I would like to succeed in an airport?
London Heathrow will stay accessible always on the Heathrow Categorical, the Elizabeth Line and the Tube.
Passengers utilizing London Gatwick can be considerably affected on the primary day of strikes, Tuesday 30 January, when no Gatwick Categorical nor Thameslink trains will run. However passengers between London and Gatwick will be capable of journey on a Southern shuttle service, nonstop between Victoria and the airport. The GWR hyperlink from Gatwick to Redhill, Guildford and Studying will run usually on 30 January however not on 5 February.
London Stansted could have an hourly skeleton service from the capital on Tuesday 2 February, with “service alterations” on all the opposite days of the time beyond regulation ban. The hyperlink to Norwich can be axed on 2 February, however CrossCountry trains to Cambridge (and on to Birmingham) will nonetheless run. On 5 February, although, no CrossCountry trains will run to Stansted airport or wherever else.
Luton airport will stay accessible by rail, no less than from London, on all days: on the Thameslink strike day, 30 January, Thameslink could have a decreased service from London St Pancras to Luton Airport Parkway. As well as, the East Midlands Railway hyperlink can be operating. On 3 February, when no East Midlands Railway providers are prone to run, Thameslink can be working.
Southend airport: hourly trains on Friday 2 February with restricted hours.
Southampton airport won’t be served by South Western Railway on Tuesday 30 January nor by CrossCountry on Monday 5 February.
Manchester airport could have a drastically decreased rail service on Wednesday 31 January. With Northern and TransPennine Categorical drivers on strike, there can be solely an hourly hyperlink on Transport for Wales to and from central Manchester, Chester and North Wales.
Birmingham airport is prone to be inaccessible by rail on Saturday 3 February, apart from Transport for Wales from Birmingham New Road.
Will Eurostar be affected?
No. Trains will proceed to run as regular between London St Pancras Worldwide and Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. However connecting journeys can be troublesome on strike days – significantly Tuesday 30 January, when Thameslink and Southeastern are out, and on Saturday 3 February when no East Midlands Railway providers are prone to run.
What does Aslef say?
In an unique interview with The Impartial, Aslef common secretary Mick Whelan mentioned: “After we get to February, it’ll be half a decade and not using a pay rise. What will we do? Can we do nothing?
“The one factor that’s going to get us out of this can be a clear deal.”
With out an settlement, he says: “It’s going to get messier. It’s going to worsen.”
What do the rail companies say?
A spokesperson for Rail Supply Group, representing the prepare operators, mentioned: “There aren’t any winners from these strikes that can sadly trigger disruption for our prospects. We consider rail can have a brilliant future, however proper now taxpayers are contributing an additional £54m every week to maintain providers operating post-Covid.
“Aslef’s management must recognise the monetary problem dealing with rail. Drivers have been made a suggestion which might take base salaries to almost £65,000 for a four-day week earlier than time beyond regulation – that’s effectively above the nationwide common and considerably greater than a lot of our prospects that haven’t any choice to make money working from home are paid.
“As an alternative of staging extra damaging industrial motion, we name on the Aslef management to work with us to resolve this dispute and ship a good deal which each rewards our individuals, and makes the modifications wanted to make providers extra dependable.”What does the federal government say?
What does the federal government say?
A Division for Transport spokesperson mentioned: “It’s very disappointing to see Aslef persevering with to focus on those that journey to work, faculty or essential medical appointments by prepare.
“Aslef is now the one rail union that’s persevering with to strike whereas refusing to place a good and affordable supply to its members. The supply that continues to be on the desk and would deliver the typical prepare driver’s wage as much as £65,000.
“The Aslef management ought to do the proper factor and let their members resolve their very own future, as a substitute of deciding it for them.”
What does the Labour Social gathering say it might do if elected?
Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, mentioned: “It’s a staggering dereliction of responsibility that the transport secretary hasn’t obtained across the desk with the unions to attempt to resolve it for the reason that Christmas earlier than final.
“Labour will take an unashamedly totally different strategy to the Tories, and can work with each side to succeed in a deal within the pursuits of passengers and staff. If the transport secretary took this wise strategy then maybe we wouldn’t nonetheless be having strikes on our railways.”
The shadow rail minister, Stephen Morgan MP, has beforehand mentioned: “Labour will deliver our railways again into public possession, as contracts expire, and guarantee providers work within the pursuits of the passenger.”
What are the London Overground strikes about?
Pay. Greater than 300 members of the RMT will stage two 48-hour walkouts on the London Overground on Mondays and Tuesdays two weeks aside: 19-20 February 2024 and 4-5 March 2024. Amongst these taking motion are safety, station, income and management workers.
The RMT mentioned that Arriva Rail London, which has the contract for London Overground, has provided a under inflation pay supply.
Mick Lynch, common secretary of the RMT, mentioned: “If this dispute can’t be resolved then RMT is greater than ready for a sustained interval of commercial motion to get London Overground staff the pay rise they deserve.”
The Impartial has contacted the Division for Transport and Arriva Rail London for remark.