Nine days of disruption on the national rail network and the London Underground are about to begin.
On Friday 29 September train drivers belonging to Aslef will begin an overtime ban at 14 English train operators who are contracted to run services by the Department for Transport (DfT).
It marks the start of the latest tranche of industrial action in a long bitter dispute over pay and working arrangements. The union says the ban on rest-day working “will seriously disrupt the network as the privatised train companies have always failed to employ enough drivers to provide a proper service”.
On Saturday 30 September and again on Wednesday 4 October, Aslef members will walk out at the same train operators, which include all the leading intercity and commuter firms. The union claims: “The strike will force the train operating companies to cancel all services.” Some will axe all trains, while others will run a skeleton service during limited hours.
Transport for Wales, ScotRail and “open-access” operators such as Lumo and Grand Central are unaffected – though many services are likely to be busier than usual.
The impact of the train drivers’ walk-out will continue into Sunday 1 October, with Southern warning: “The disruption from a strike day will have a knock-on effect which means that first services will begin much later than normal, with some routes having no services before 7am.”
The Aslef overtime ban continues on 2 Monday, 3 Tuesday, 5 Thursday and Friday 6 October. In the middle, on Wednesday 4 October: a second strike by train drivers in the current bout of industrial action.
The same day will see severe disruption across the national rail network as well as a near-total shutdown of the London Underground. RMT members employed on the Tube are walking out in a dispute over jobs and safety. They will also strike on Friday 6 October, with the Night Tube and Saturday morning services impacted. The London Overground and the Elizabeth Line are unaffected but are expected to be much busier than usual.
Aslef’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, said of the latest trains drivers’ strike: “While we regret having to take this action – we don’t want to lose a day’s pay, or disrupt passengers, as they try to travel by train – the government, and the employers, have forced us into this position.
“Our members have not, now, had a pay rise for four years – since 2019 – and that’s not right when prices have soared in that time. Train drivers, perfectly reasonably, want to be able to buy now what they could buy four years ago.”
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), representing train operators, says its current offer would take average driver salaries from £60,000 to £65,000 for a four-day week.
An RDG spokesperson said: “We want to resolve this dispute and are acutely aware of the damaging impact it's having on our passengers, our people and the long-term sustainability of the industry itself. We apologise to our customers for the unnecessary disruption to their journeys caused by the Aslef leadership.
“At a time when the industry is losing £10m a day post-Covid, the union’s leadership must recognise the need to make changes to how the sector is run, to both fund any pay rise and, crucially, so we can give our passengers more reliable train services, particularly on Sundays.”
On the London Underground strike, the RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Station staff have had enough of having their livelihoods threatened by job losses and attacks on their terms and conditions.
”These job cuts and attacks on conditions are going to lead to more unstaffed stations, temporary closures and rising passenger anger.
“This strike action will lead to the Tube being shutdown and we call on Mayor Sadiq Khan to meet us urgently to discuss this matter.”
Glynn Barton, chief operating officer for Transport for London, said: “We are disappointed that the RMT has announced strike action despite our open discussion on these issues.
“Nobody wants to see strikes that will cause significant disruption to our customers and we urge them to reconsider and continue engaging with us.”
Rail and Tube: Timetable of industrial action
Friday 29 September: train drivers’ overtime ban
Saturday 30 September: train drivers’ strike
Sunday 1 October: disruption in the morning caused by train drivers’ strike
Monday 2 October: train drivers’ overtime ban
Tuesday 3 October: train drivers’ overtime ban
Wednesday 4 October: train drivers’ strike plus London Underground strike
Thursday 5 October: train drivers’ overtime ban
Friday 6 October: London Underground strike plus train drivers’ overtime ban
Saturday 7 October: disruption in the morning caused by London Underground strike
The Independent has compiled full details of train operators’ services on the Aslef strike days here: Train strikes 2023: Everything you need to know about September and October rail industrial action