Train strikes to wreck weekend: Travel chaos set for thousands TODAY

Train strikes to wreck weekend: Travel chaos set for thousands TODAY as East Midlands Railway cancels ALL services and LNER runs reduced timetable… before walkouts at six rail firms tomorrow

  • Passengers advised to check ahead before travelling as strikes cripple network
  • READ MORE: Full list of train strikes in December 2023 

The first action in a week of crippling rail strikes is kicking off today on major routes in England – with industrial action at two operators set to cause chaos for thousands of travellers on Saturday before walkouts at six more tomorrow.

Members of train driver union Aslef at East Midlands Railway (EMR) and LNER will walk out on Saturday in a long-running dispute over pay – a day after drivers began a week-long overtime ban that is expected to disrupt services.

Operators have warned trains could be disrupted in the evening before and the morning after strikes – as drivers vowed to continue taking action for the next six months amid claims the government hasn’t met with union bosses for a year.

EMR said it will not operate services on any of its routes on Saturday, while LNER said it will run a reduced timetable between Edinburgh and London and Leeds and London.

Tomorrow, drivers at Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, Great Northern, London Northwestern, Thameslink and West Midlands will also strike – crippling the network across the country.

Passengers have been warned to check ahead before travelling (pictured: a sign warning of disruption at London Bridge station on Friday)

East Midlands Railway and LNER have taken to social media to warn passengers to check ahead – or find another way to travel

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan claimed that the government and railway companies are not coming to the table for talks on pay

EMR said in a post on X, formerly Twitter on Saturday morning: ‘There are no services today due to strike action. DO NOT TRAVEL. 

‘On Sunday, engineering works and strike action will affect multiple other operators. Some EMR routes are also impacted and we are expecting to be extremely busy. Only travel if necessary.’

Full list of train strikes in December 2023

Saturday, December 2

  • East Midlands Railway
  • LNER

Sunday, December 3

  • Avanti West Coast
  • Chiltern Railways
  • Great Northern
  • London Northwestern Railway
  • Thameslink
  • West Midlands Railway

Monday, December 4

  • No strikes 

Tuesday, December 5

  • c2c
  • Greater Anglia
  • Stansted Express

Wednesday, December 6

  • Gatwick Express
  • South Western Railway
  • Southeastern
  • Southern

Thursday, December 7

  • CrossCountry
  • Great Western Railway
  • Heathrow Express

Friday, December 8

  • Northern
  • TransPennine Express

LNER added in its own post: ‘We are running a limited service (today), 2 Dec due to industrial action. There’s a reduced timetable between #Edinburgh and #London & #Leeds and London.

‘There will be no LNER service beyond Edinburgh towards #Glasgow, #Aberdeen & #Inverness in either direction.’

Throughout next week, drivers for other train companies will strike on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with passengers advised to check ahead before travelling in case their routes are affected. 

C2C, Greater Anglia, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express, Southwestern, CrossCountry, GWR, Northern and TransPennine Express routes will all be affected by the action at some point in the coming days. 

And an overtime ban on all operators is in effect until Saturday December 9.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union have accepted a deal to resolve their dispute over pay and conditions but the Aslef row remains bitterly deadlocked.

The union rejected an offer of two four per cent annual increases in 2022 and 2023 in April – and there have been no talks with train companies since. 

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said in addition to not meeting with train firms since spring, he has not met Transport Secretary Mark Harper since last December.

The union has secured pay deals with 14 other train companies in the last year, including Eurostar, freight companies and ScotRail and Transport for Wales. 

Mr Whelan said: ‘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% 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.’

The action in England came after a 24-hour strike in Northern Ireland on Friday caused significant disruption across the public transport network. 

Members of the Unite, GMB and Siptu unions took action over pay that disrupted bus and train services, including school buses. 

Northern Ireland’s Education Authority said more than 57,000 children and young people were affected, reports the BBC.

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