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Fresh rail strike to disrupt services across the UK

Picketing Aslef members at a picket line at Kings Cross station in London in August (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Picketing Aslef members at a picket line at Kings Cross station in London in August (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Further strikes by railway workers in the bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions are “inevitable” unless the deadlocked row is resolved soon, a union leader has warned on the eve of another walkout.

Rail passengers are being urged only to travel if necessary on Saturday because of the latest strike by workers, which is set to cause widespread disruption to services.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Aslef, Unite and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) will stage a co-ordinated walkout, with further action planned.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, told the PA News Agency that his members were increasingly angry at the lack of progress in the dispute.

“We don’t want to be on strike, but this dispute will continue until the Government lifts the shackles from the train companies.

“The message I am receiving from my members is that they want more industrial action, so I think more strikes are inevitable.”

Another strike by Aslef will be held on Wednesday, while RMT members will walk out again on October 8, and again on October 10 in Scotland.

A reduced timetable has been published, showing that just 11% of rail services will run on Saturday, with some areas having no trains.

Trains will start later in the morning and finish earlier in the evening, and there will be no trains at all across large parts of the network.

Delegates travelling to the Conservative Party conference this weekend will be among those affected by the disruption.

Those passengers who must travel – including those looking to participate in or watch the London Marathon – are advised to plan ahead and check when their last train will depart.

Passengers are also advised that there is likely to be some disruption in the early morning of Sunday October 2 as workers return to duties.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Despite our best efforts to compromise and find a breakthrough in talks, rail unions remain intent on continuing and coordinating their strike action.

“This serves only to ensure our staff forgo even more of their pay unnecessarily, as well as causing even more disruption for our passengers and further damaging the railway’s recovery from the pandemic.

“Passengers who want to travel this Saturday, and indeed next Wednesday and next Saturday, are asked only to do so if absolutely necessary. Those who must travel should expect disruption and make sure they check when their last train will depart.”

Mick Whelan
Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Daniel Mann, director of industry operations at Rail Delivery Group, said: “These strikes are unnecessary and damaging. They disrupt passengers’ plans, undermine struggling businesses, hit major events and harm the industry’s recovery.

“It is particularly disheartening that this weekend’s strike will hit the plans of thousands of runners who have trained for months to take part in the iconic London Marathon.

“That will also punish the many charities, large and small, who depend on sponsorship money raised by such events to support the most vulnerable in our community.

“While we have done all we can to keep some services running – passengers should only travel by rail if absolutely necessary.”

Transport for London (TfL) warned its services will be affected by the strikes, with no service expected on London Overground on Saturday and next Wednesday.

Some of London Underground and the Elizabeth line will also be affected on both days.

Runners and spectators trying to get into London in time for the 9.30am start of the London Marathon in Greenwich on Sunday were warned they were likely to be frustrated by the strike.

Trains travelling any reasonable distance into central London will not arrive much before 9am.

On Sunday, as services will start much later, only those travelling a short distance to the London Marathon will reach the 9.30am start line on time.