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December train strikes: Dates and services affected

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan (centre) on a picket line at Euston station in London as members of the train drivers' union hold a week of strikes
Union general secretary Mick Whelan says Aslef is ‘determined to win this dispute and get a significant pay rise for train drivers’ - James Manning/PA

Commuters face another wave of strikes and rail disruption this week, as train drivers hold rolling walkouts and a ban on overtime. On Wednesday services in the south of England are affected.

The disruption is the latest blow to travellers, who have been hit with 18 months of disruption since unions began their pay dispute with the Government and train operating companies.

Here is everything you need to know about the latest industrial action:

When are the train strikes and which rail companies are affected?

Unlike previous strikes, different operators will walk out on different days across the country during this week’s action.

The walkouts will be held on the following days:

Saturday December 2 – EMR and LNER

Sunday December 3 – Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, Great Northern Thameslink and WMT 

Tuesday December 5 – C2C and Greater Anglia 

Wednesday December 6 – Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, the SWR main line and depot, and on the Island Line

Thursday December 7 – CrossCountry and GWR

Friday December 8 – Northern and TPT

Friday December 1 to Saturday December 9 – All Aslef members will refuse to work overtime

I thought train strikes had been sorted. Why are there more?

Aslef’s ongoing dispute over pay has hit travellers for the past 18 months, and train drivers represented by the Aslef union have voted overwhelmingly to continue strike action for the next six months, potentially heaping more misery on commuters in 2024.

Strikes have also been held since June 2022 by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union. However, they voted overwhelmingly this week to accept a deal to end their long-running dispute over pay and conditions. The deal will see the union suspend industrial action until at least April in exchange for a backdated pay offer which could see all members receive a lump sum of at least £1,750 before the Christmas break.

Advice for travelling during train strikes

National Rail warns passengers to expect “significant disruption” on strike days.

National Rail has recommended that passengers:

  • Use its Journey Planner. Passengers should check close to the time of each strike date

  • Use its Live Trains page for the most up-to-date information about arrivals and departures

  • Plan ahead and check before you travel. This includes checking your entire journey, especially if you’re travelling on the first and last trains of strike days

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Why are Aslef striking?

The Aslef union said the new walkouts will “ratchet up the pressure” on train companies and the Government to give train drivers their first pay rise in more than four years.

Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, said: “We are in this for the long haul. Our members – who have not had a pay rise for nearly five years now – are determined that the train companies – and the Tory government that stands behind them – do the right thing.

“The cost of living has soared since the spring and summer of 2019, when these pay deals ran out. The bosses at the train companies – as well as Tory MPs and government ministers – have had increases in pay. It’s unrealistic – and unfair – to expect our members to work just as hard for what, in real terms, is considerably less.

“Train drivers are fed up and frustrated that their employers failed to negotiate in good faith, making a proposal through the Rail Delivery Group which they knew – because we had told them – would be turned down and then to blame drivers for the train companies’ inability to manage services and the rail industry effectively. ASLEF members, key workers who kept our country moving through the pandemic, are simply asking for a fair and decent deal.

“We have always said that we are prepared to come to the table but the government and train companies need to understand that this dispute won’t be resolved by trying to bully our members into accepting worse terms and conditions of employment.

“Looking at the resolve of our members as shown by all the branch meetings I have attended and these new ballot results – and the solidarity they have shown on the picket line since the first ballots went out in June 2022 – we are calling on the government to let the companies come back to the table and make our members a sensible offer, with no strings attached, to reflect the increase in the cost of living.”

Aslef said it had successfully struck pay deals with 14 companies in the last 12 months, including freight firms, open-access operators, Eurostar, and passenger companies in Scotland and Wales where transport issues are devolved.

It added: “This is a dispute in England made at Westminster by the Tory Government.

“We gave the train operating companies (TOCs) a way out of this dispute which they chose not to accept because the Government interfered.

“We suggested a significant across-the-board increase for all drivers, at all the companies involved, to deal with the cost-of-living crisis.

“Other matters, we said, could then be dealt with company by company because terms and conditions are different at each company.

“Uncoupling the carriages, as it were, would have given the TOCs and the Government a way out, and given us an opportunity to deal, at company council level, with any changes and productivity they want.

“Some TOCs have Sundays in the working week, some don’t. One size does not, cannot and will not, fit all.

“We will continue to take industrial action until the train companies – and/or the Government – sits down and negotiates with us in good faith.”

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