UK train users are facing two weekends of chaos, as the country’s top rail firms issue “do not travel” warnings for several August dates.
“There will be no Southeastern train services running,” warned Southeastern trains ahead of Saturday 13 August. “Please do not attempt to travel by train on this day.”
Serving London, Kent and East Sussex, it’s just one of the companies which will be affected by the Aslef train drivers’ strike this Saturday.
The others are: Avanti West Coast (no service on 13 August), CrossCountry (no service), Greater Anglia (limited services), Hull Trains (limited services), LNER (limited services), London Northwestern (no service), West Midlands (no service).
No replacement bus services will be laid on for the disrupted lines.
London Overground will also be out of action as Aslef members who work for Arriva London are also set to stage a walkout.
Greater Anglia has urged football fans to find other means of transport, with five East of England fixtures scheduled for Saturday. It has also warned fans coming into London for a Coldplay gig to find other modes of transport from the east of the country.
Elsewhere, East Midlands Railway have issued a warning to supporters traveling to see the Leicester City vs Arsenal match at London’s Emirates Stadium.
The Aslef union members are striking over pay which they say has failed to “keep pace” with the cost of living in the UK.
Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, said: “We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – our friends and families use public transport, too – and we don’t want to lose money by going on strike but we’ve been forced into this position by the companies, who say they have been driven to this by the Tory government.
“Many of our members – who were the men and women who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic – have not had a pay rise since 2019.
“It’s not unreasonable to ask your employer to make sure you’re not worse off for three years in a row, especially as the train companies are doing very nicely, thank you, out of Britain’s railways – with handsome profits, dividends for shareholders, and big salaries for managers – and train drivers don’t want to work longer for less.”
It comes ahead of next week’s RMT Union strikes, which sit either side of a scheduled Tube strike. Transport workers who are part of the RMT Union will stage walkouts on August 18 and 20, while London’s Underground network will be hit by a separate strike on August 19.
Some train companies also warned of this week’s amber weather alert for extreme heat, saying that high temperatures could cause further disruption on the railways.
Meanwhile, Avanti West coast has announced that it will run a reduced timetable from August 14 onwards, as well as warning of the strikes on Saturday.
Its social media statement said: “There will be NO services operating on our route on August 13, due to industrial action by ASLEF”.
Today, Mr Whelan told The Independent that Avanti West Coast’s limited schedule could be politically motivated, saying: “I do wonder if somebody wanted to create the situation that we’re in now.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “People deserve certainty and confidence that their train will run on time, and while this move was unavoidable, it should minimize the fallout for passengers.
“This is a prime example of why we need to modernize our railways, so that passengers benefit from reliable timetables which don’t rely on the goodwill of drivers volunteering to work overtime in the first place.”