London rail strike: Passengers facing more travel chaos as workers again take industrial action

London rail passengers are facing more travel chaos on Wednesday due to another strike in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Members of the drivers’ union Aslef and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) are walking out out - causing huge disruption to services, impacting London Overground and many national rail routes to and from the capital.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said the dispute would continue until the Government intervened.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of union RMT, said on Wednesday: “We’re reballoting now to get a fresh mandate for the next six months – if there’s not a settlement there’ll be more action, that’s how it works.”

Mr Whelan says train drivers in England face a third year without a pay rise, pointing out that deals have been achieved in Scotland and Wales, and urged Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan to “lift the shackles” from train companies so they could make a pay offer to workers.

UK: Train Strike | 5th October 2022

Rail Strikes: (PA)
Rail Strikes: (PA)
(AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

“The message I am receiving from my members is that they are in this for the long haul and if anything they want industrial action to be increased,” he said.

He added the current wave of train strikes were the first railway dispute he has been involved in where transport unions have “the approval of the public”.

“That’s because it is barristers, it is teachers, it is lecturers, it is everybody across all sectors all feeling the pinch at the same time and this can only be down to the Government,” he said on Wednesday.

Ms Trevelyan, speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, indicated that she now sees “more clearly” the perspective of the railway workers after meeting with Mr Whelan and Mr Lynch.

Mr Whelan said there were no further meetings scheduled with the new transport secretary, but that she had been “very welcoming” in their meeting and he looked forward to trying to “find a solution together”.

Network Rail warns of “significant disruption” on the railway on Wednesday, and advises passengers to “only travel if absolutely necessary”.

Those using train services are  advised to check before they travel and allow extra time for their journey.

Which lines are affected?

The train drivers’ strike will affect London Overground, Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, Greater Anglia (including Stansted Express), Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Transpennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

Members of the TSSA will strike at CrossCountry and take other forms of industrial action at several other operators.

The TSSA is also planning industrial action on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, while members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at more than a dozen train companies and Network Rail will strike on Saturday.

There will be no service on London Overground routes on Wednesday, bar a service operating between Barking and Barking Riveside from 8am to 6.45pm.

The strike will not affect London Underground services directly, although the Tube network is expected to feel the knock-on effects of the action. TfL says warns of disruption that will continue into Thursday morning.

Train companies not involved in the strike will be running trains, but these are expected to be busy.

Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan (centre) at a picket line at Euston station on Wednesday (PA)
Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan (centre) at a picket line at Euston station on Wednesday (PA)

Services are likely to be disrupted into the early morning of Thursday as workers return to duties.

The disruption will affect football fixtures and the final day of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, where Prime Minister Liz Truss is due to give a speech on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Aslef announced on Wednesday morning that its members working on the Croydon Tramlink have rejected a pay offer and will be striking on Monday and Tuesday.

The union’s London officer, Finn Brennan, said: “The management’s offer of 4.75% is far below the current rate of inflation and would mean our members face real-terms pay cuts.”

Daniel Mann, director of industry operations at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “These strikes disrupt the travel plans of millions of passengers and undermine businesses who continue to struggle with rising costs and this continued action will only further damage the railway’s recovery.

“While some rail companies are not involved in the strike, services are likely to be busy, severely disrupted or in some cases not running, so passengers should check the latest travel advice before setting off.

“Passengers with advance, off-peak or anytime tickets affected by the strikes on 5 October can use their ticket on the day before the booked date, or up to and including 7 October.

“Passengers can also change their tickets to travel on an alternate date or get a refund if their train is cancelled or rescheduled.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We saw only last weekend that our strike action was rock-solid across the country. Our brilliant members remain determined to see their demands met in the shape of a just settlement.

“We do not strike lightly but are prepared to dig in as we seek a fair deal on pay, job security and conditions in the face of cuts, economic collapse and a cost-of-living crisis at the hands of this chaotic Tory government.

“With more strikes and wider industrial action in the offing this week, it’s time for ministers to get wise and act now to deliver a fair deal which will halt a winter of rail misery across the network.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has criticised the strikes, telling ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Wednesday that they will negatively impact people who are not able to work from home.

“There are people who if they can’t get to work, you don’t get paid for work,” he said. “You can’t be a cleaner by a Zoom call.

“These are the people who are being disrupted. I think it’s deeply, deeply unfair that the rail unions are putting those people at such disruption when they are themselves on really a very good overall package.”

Meanwhile a Department for Transport spokesperson said: “It is incredibly disappointing that for the second time in five days we face disruption on our railways, with businesses once again being affected, thousands of people at risk of being unable to travel to work or school, and doctors’ appointments being missed.

“Our railway is in desperate need of modernisation but all more strikes will do is punish the very people unions claim to stand up for and push passengers further away.

“We urge union bosses to reconsider this divisive action and instead work with their employers, not against them, to agree a new way forward.”

On Tuesday, Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said there is a “deal to be done” between unions and train operators, but stressed any agreement “will require compromise”.

Ms Trevelyan told Tories attending the Conservartive Party Conference in Birmingham the “very last thing that the country needs right now is more damaging industrial disputes”.

On rolling strike action, she said: “The more quickly we can resolve these disputes, the sooner all our efforts can be spent on getting our economy motoring at full speed.”

The action has received backing from other quarters, with music stars banding together to record a new song in support of striking railway workers.

Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie and Andrew Innes, Dexys Midnight Runners stars Kevin Rowland and Sean Read, and Jesus and Mary Chain bassist Douglas Hart have joined forces to produce the song Enough is Enough.

It will feature a guest appearance by Mick Lynch, and is due for release at the end of October.