3 March 2024 9:53 PM
Trains sit still near Kettering train station in Northamptonshire during the strike by members of the train drivers union Aslef

news: Four rail companies had NO trains running today as chaos on Britain’s rail lines continue during week of strikes – as Transport Secretary demands end to walkouts

Four rail companies had no trains running today as the chaos on Britain’s rail lines continued during a week of strikes.

Members of train drivers’ union Aslef at Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, Great Northern Thameslink and West Midlands Railways have walked out in the long running dispute over pay and conditions.  

The nine days of disruption began yesterday despite an offer on the table to hike train drivers’ pay packets to £65,000 a year with Transport Secretary Mark Harper demanding an end to the walkouts. 

RMT members have already voted to accept the offer but Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan told the BBC it had only been offered ‘a bad faith deal’.   

A week of commuter chaos is expected after Aslef members voted to stage a further six months of walk outs in a long-running dispute over pay.

Overtime will also be banned until next weekend which will lead to further disruption and cancellations. 

Trains sit still near Kettering train station in Northamptonshire during the strike by members of the train drivers union Aslef

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Great Northern have refused to provide bus replacements for cancelled trains

Writing in The Express, Mr Harper said Aslef refusing to put the offer to its members is ‘piling on more unnecessary disruption for passengers’.

‘The more they inconvenience the British public, the more they play fast and loose with people’s livelihoods, particularly those in the hospitality sector,’ Mr Harper said. ‘This is not the first time either.’ 

Commuters needing to travel during this busy pre-Christmas weekend have expressed their fury on social media after being stranded with no rail replacement service. 

One person unable to get a bus replacement service with Great Northern wrote on X: ‘Please explain why as a service industry you think it is acceptable not to provide a service to passengers. I have an annual season ticket and you are letting me and all other passengers down.’

When they asked about a bus service to Stevenage, Great Northern said: ‘We have no rail replacements in place today due to industrial action.’

Others have also taken to social media to condemn the strikes, with one writing: ‘Wouldn’t notice. You cancel so many trains at the drop of a hat.’ 

Train drivers across England started a week-long ban on overtime on Friday which is expected to disrupt services.

The action follows the news that Aslef members have voted overwhelmingly to continue taking industrial action for the next six months.

East Midlands Railway said it would not operate services on any of its routes on Saturday, while the overtime ban may cause some late notice cancellations and changes to train times.

Passengers were advised to check before travelling.

A statement said: ‘If travel is essential, bus replacements are in place, but with extremely limited availability and will take considerably longer (approximately 120 minutes).’

Strikes against other train operators will be held on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union accepted a deal to resolve their dispute over pay and conditions but the Aslef row is deadlocked.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said he has not had any talks with employers since April, and has not met Mr Harper since last December.

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A sign at the closed Kettering station as train services continue to be disrupted following the strike

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People took to social media today to condemn the train strikes which have caused commuter chaos 

‘We are in this for the long haul. Our members have not had a pay rise for nearly five years.

‘Train drivers are fed up and frustrated that their employers failed to negotiate in good faith.

‘These are key workers who kept the country moving throughout the pandemic. They are simply asking for a fair and decent deal.’

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said: ‘This unnecessary and avoidable industry action called by the Aslef leadership has been targeted to disrupt customers and businesses ahead of the vital festive period.

‘It will also inflict further damage on an industry that is receiving up to an additional £175 million a month in taxpayer cash to keep services running, following the Covid downturn.

‘As the level of service varies across the country our advice is to check before you travel.’

The RDG said the latest offer of an 8 per cent pay increase over two years would take average salaries from almost £60,000 a year to almost £65,000.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: ‘Following RMT members voting to overwhelmingly accept the train operators’ pay offer, Aslef is now not just the only rail union still striking but the only union not to even put an offer to its members.

‘They are instead choosing to cause more misery for passengers and the hospitality sector this festive period.

‘The fair and reasonable offer that’s long been on the table would bring the average train driver’s salary up to £65,000 for a 35-hour, four-day week.

‘Aslef’s leadership should follow in the footsteps of all the other rail unions by doing the right thing and giving their members a say on that offer.’

Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12820107/Chaos-Britains-rail-lines-second-day-week-strikes-Fury-Great-Northern-refuses-provide-bus-replacements-busy-pre-Christmas-weekend-Transport-Secretary-demands-end-walkouts.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270

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