Train drivers to stage fresh strikes during May Bank Holiday week

Aslef has announced further rail strikes this May Bank Holiday week
Aslef has announced further rail strikes this May Bank Holiday week -Credit:NCJ Media

North East travellers face rail chaos during the May Bank Holiday week as fresh strikes at 16 rail companies were announced on Monday.

Aslef members at LNER, Northern Trains, and TransPennine Express, the main rail companies serving the North East, will strike on May 9. CrossCountry, which also operates in the region, will strike on Wednesday May 8.

Members of the Aslef Union will also be banned from overtime for six days from May 6, with the union saying it has not met employers or the Government for a year. It accused ministers of "giving up" trying to resolve the near two-year dispute.

Aslef said train drivers have not had a salary increase for five years, since their last pay deals expired in 2019. The union said that after its members voted overwhelmingly in February to continue taking industrial action, it asked the train operating companies to hold talks.

Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, said: "It is now a year since we sat in a room with the train companies and a year since we rejected the risible offer they made and which they admitted, privately, was designed to be rejected. We first balloted for industrial action in June 2022, after three years without a pay rise.

"It took eight one-day strikes to persuade the train operating companies (Tocs) to come to the table and talk. Our negotiating team met the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) on eight occasions – the last being on Wednesday, April 26 last year. That was followed by the Tocs’ ‘land grab’ for all our terms and conditions on Thursday, April 27 – which was immediately rejected.

"Since then train drivers have voted, again and again, to take action to get a pay rise. That’s why Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, is being disingenuous when he says that offer should have been put to members.

"Drivers would not vote to strike if they thought an offer was acceptable."

Mr Whelan said the year-old offer of a 4% pay rise followed by a second 4% increase is "dead in the water".

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group called the strike action "wholly unnecessary" and said it would disrupt customers and business once again. He said: "We continue to seek a fair agreement with the Aslef leadership which both rewards our people, gives our customers more reliable services and makes sure the railway isn’t taking more than its fair share from taxpayers."

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport, said:"Aslef’s leadership are acting like a broken record – calling for strike action time and time again while remaining the only rail union continuing to strike, as well as the only union refusing to put a fair and reasonable pay offer to its members for over a year. The Transport Secretary and rail minister have done their part to facilitate this pay offer, – one which would take train drivers’ salaries up to an average of £65,000 which is almost twice the average salary in the UK."

Which rail companies will strike and when on the May Bank Holiday week?

Tuesday, May 7: c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express, South Western Railway.

Wednesday, May 8: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, West Midlands Trains

Thursday, May 9: LNER, Northern Trains, TransPennine Express

Lumo is not affected by Aslef strike action.