Train drivers’ strike has brought fresh trouble to rail passengers.


Commuters faced fresh travel woes on Saturday when thousands of train drivers went on strike in the latest in a worsening industry dispute.

Aslef members across seven train companies walked out for 24 hours, affecting services in many parts of the country.

Football fans were traveling for the opening week of the English leagues, and Commonwealth Games-goers in Birmingham were among those affected.

Strike action will intensify next month with a series of stoppages in a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

As picket lines were set up outside railway stations on Saturday, Asliffe said they were receiving overwhelming public support despite the disruption caused by the strike.

Relations between the government and the rail unions soured when Mick Whelan, Asliffe’s general secretary, accused the transport secretary of “lying” about negotiations over strikes.

Grant Shepps wrote in The Times: “The ‘Two Micks’, Lynch of the RMT and Wheelan of Aslef, are taking the taxpayer for a ride, but not in the way they want.

“RMT is stalling on reforms and Aslef is dragging its feet on negotiations while both are calling for more strikes. Enough.”

In response, Mr Whelan told Times Radio on Saturday morning: “I say Mr Shepps is lying, quite simply, quite clearly.

“We’re not dragging our feet in negotiations, we negotiate with 14 private companies, we don’t work for the government or the DfT (Department for Transport).”

He added: “I would like Mr Shepps to get us out of this catch-22 situation that he misrepresents at every opportunity.”

The Department for Transport said: “It is highly misleading to suggest that the Transport Secretary should be involved in these negotiations. His role is to protect the public purse, to ensure value for money for the hardworking people of this country.

“As such, it is required to set the limits of taxpayer support and ultimately sign any agreement, not to engage in negotiations on any, and its agreements with operators allow it to do exactly that. .

“Unions are well aware that negotiations over pay and working practices are not with the government, they are with the employers of the people they represent.

“We once again urge union representatives to return to the negotiating table.”

The strike affects Areva Rail London, Greater Anglia, Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, South Eastern and West Midlands trains.

Passengers at Birmingham New Street Station (Jacob King/PA) / PA Wire

There was some disruption on roads due to the cancellation of trains across the country. The AA said the M4/M5 interchange west of Bristol was “swelling with traffic”, while there were more cars on the M5 southbound to Exeter.

A number of events mean congestion is increasing across the country including; The M25/M11 interchange, the M1 Northampton, the M8 and Queens Ferry crossings in Edinburgh, motorways around Leeds and Bradford and the M42 east of Birmingham.

Steve Montgomery, chairman of Rail Delivery Group, said: “We are really disappointed that Aslef’s leadership has decided to impose further uncertainty and disruption for passengers and businesses in a week that has already seen RMT strike action. are

“Millions of commuters will have their weekend plans disrupted, particularly those working, or heading to the Commonwealth Games or the first football match of the season.

“While we will do everything we can to minimize disruption, if you are going to be traveling on the affected routes, please plan ahead and check the latest travel advice.

“If you are not able to travel, you can use your ticket either a day before or till August 2, otherwise you will be able to change your ticket or claim a refund.

“Like any service or business, we must move with the times and cannot continue to ask taxpayers or passengers for more money when we should instead be responding to the major changes in travel behavior post-Covid.

“By making the necessary reforms such as eliminating the reliance on volunteers to work at the weekend, we improve punctuality, have more flexible Sunday services and pass those savings on to pay increases for our people. Use what we’ve always wanted to do.”