Rail passengers to suffer fresh travel disruption amid more strikes
Written by First Choice Radio on 31 May 2023
Walkouts are taking place today, on Friday and on Saturday
Rail passengers will suffer fresh travel disruption in the next few days because of more strikes in long-running disputes over pay, jobs and conditions.
Train companies are warning that services will be “severely reduced” because of industrial action by drivers and other workers.
Members of the drivers’ union Aslef will walk out on Wednesday and June 3, while the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has called a strike on June 2.
Passengers are being advised to plan ahead and check the times of first and last trains.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, told the PA news agency there was “no waning in enthusiasm” from train drivers to continue taking industrial action.
He said: “We are determined to get a resolution and remain in this for the long haul.
“It is time for the Government to step back from interference which is preventing a deal – drivers, in line with other workers, deserve a pay rise after four years without one and inflation running over the last 12 months north of 10%.”
The strikes will affect 15 train companies, with services due to start later and finish much earlier than usual – typically between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said it is expected that nationally services will be severely reduced, with variations across the network and no services at all in some areas.
On the RMT strike day, around half of the network will shut down, with around 50% of normal services running.
On Aslef strike days, around 40% of trains will be running but there will be wide regional variations, with some operators running no services at all.
It is likely that evening services on some lines will be affected on the days before each strike, so passengers are advised to check the last train times on the evenings before strike days and the mornings following strikes.
Aslef will also also start an overtime ban at 15 train operating companies on June 1 that could cause disruption, especially in and out of London.
The industrial action will affect football fans travelling to London for the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.
Fans wishing to travel to the game by train from Manchester were advised not to attempt to do so on the day.
There will be a limited service on Friday due to the RMT industrial action.
Industrial action on Saturday will also affect more than 100,000 people travelling to the annual Epsom Derby as well as fans travelling to Beyonce’s Renaissance world tour concert at Tottenham’s stadium and cricket fans travelling to watch the England v Ireland Test match at Lord’s.
An RDG spokesperson said: “The upcoming rail strikes called by the Aslef and RMT leadership will not only affect our passengers’ daily commute, but will also impact those travelling to and from the FA Cup final and other events across the country, causing disappointment and frustration for tens of thousands of people.
“It will also inconvenience families who have been looking forward and have planned their half-term holidays. It will also further burden our people who have already lost thousands of pounds at a time of financial strain.
“We understand the impact of these strikes on individuals and businesses alike, and we can only apologise for this unnecessary and damaging disruption.
“While we are doing all we can to keep trains running, unfortunately there will be reduced train services between Wednesday May 31 and Saturday June 3, so our advice is to check before you travel.
“Passengers with Advance tickets can be refunded fee-free if the train that the ticket is booked for is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.”
The unions say they have not been given a pay offer it can recommend to their members.
Officials say support for industrial action remains strong among workers as well as the public.
Aslef says train drivers have not had a pay rise for four years.
Both unions claim the Government is preventing the train companies making an acceptable offer, which ministers deny.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “These strikes have been co-ordinated by union leaders to disrupt passengers in a week which will see major events such as the first ever all Manchester FA Cup final, the Epsom Derby and a number of concerts and festivals across the UK.
“Not content with impacting the hundreds of thousands of people who have looked forward to these events all year round, unions are also targeting their own members’ pockets by forcing them to miss out on pay every time they strike.
“The Government has facilitated a fair and reasonable pay offer, now union leaders must do the right thing and put this to their members.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub