London train strike latest LIVE: Aslef union announces fresh strikes for August 13

·34-min read
London train strike latest LIVE: Aslef union announces fresh strikes for August 13

Train drivers at nine rail companies are to strike on August 13 over pay, their union Aslef announced.

It comes after the union tweeted in solidarity with the RMT, saying they “stand together against profiteering and attacks on safety and conditions”.

“We’ve been forced into this position by the companies, who say they have been driven to this by the Tory government,” said Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef.

“We want an increase in line with the cost of living - we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021.

“It’s not unreasonable to ask your employer to make sure you’re not worse off for three years in a row.”

It came as London commuters suffered fresh travel chaos on Wednesday after thousands of workers walked out on strike, crippling services across the country.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 14 train operators have staged a number of strikes in recent months as part of a bitter dispute over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions.

Only around one in five trains will run on Wednesday, on around half the network, with some areas having no trains all day. In the capital, as well as national rail trains, the London Overground, Elizabeth and District lines are operating a reduced service, while the Bakerloo will have part closures.

Good morning

06:45 , Elly Blake

Good morning, we will be bringing you live updates from the Evening Standard live blig.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 14 train operators have gone on strike on Wednesday.

We will be bringing you live updates as they happen. Stay tuned...

What rail lines are affected?

06:45 , Elly Blake

– Avanti West Coast

A limited service of around a quarter of the normal timetable will operate, with one train per hour in both directions between London Euston and each of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Preston.

A reduced timetable will operate to Glasgow.

Several areas will not be served, such as Blackpool, Edinburgh, North Wales and Shrewsbury.

– c2c

It will operate fewer than a third of normal services.

These will consist of two trains per hour in each direction between London Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness via Laindon, and the same frequency between London Fenchurch Street and Pitsea via Rainham.

No trains will run via Ockendon or Chafford Hundred.

– Caledonian Sleeper

All departures are cancelled for Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

– Chiltern Railways

No trains will run north of Banbury or to/from Oxford station.

There will be one train per hour in both directions between London Marylebone and each of Aylesbury via High Wycombe; Banbury; and Oxford Parkway.

The same frequency will be in place between Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Amersham.

– CrossCountry

No direct services will run between Birmingham and Bristol, Cardiff, Peterborough, Cambridge or Stansted Airport.

A very limited service is planned between Birmingham and Edinburgh via Leeds, York and Newcastle; Leicester; Manchester; and Southampton.

– East Midlands Railway

Just one train per hour will run in each direction between London St Pancras and each of Corby, Nottingham and Sheffield; between Derby and both Matlock and Nottingham; and between Nottingham and both Leicester and Sheffield.

All other routes will be closed.

– Gatwick Express

Services will be suspended. Passengers travelling to or from Gatwick Airport can use Southern and Thameslink trains.

– Grand Central

Just three trains in each direction will run between London King’s Cross and both Northallerton and Wakefield Kirkgate.

– Great Northern

There will be very few trains, with no services east of Ely to King’s Lynn.

– Great Western Railway

No services will run on many routes, such as all those in Cornwall, branch lines in Devon, between Cardiff and Swansea, and between Bath and Portsmouth.

– Greater Anglia

On strike days, the company will not run any trains on its regional and branch lines.

A very limited service will operate on some routes to and from London Liverpool Street.

– Heathrow Express

Trains will run every half an hour instead of every 15 minutes normally.

– Hull Trains

Trains will only run between Doncaster and London King’s Cross, with five in each direction.

– London North Eastern Railway

Only two trains per hour will operate between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross, and one per hour between Leeds and London King’s Cross, in both directions.

– London Northwestern Railway

A limited service will run to and from Birmingham New Street and both Crewe and London Euston.

Other routes will be closed.

– Lumo

Just three trains will run in each direction between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh, with two others doing part of the route.

– Merseyrail

An hourly service will call at selected stations.

– Northern

Passengers are urged “not to travel” as only a small number of routes will have trains.

Routes that will be open include Liverpool to Alderley Edge; York to Leeds; and Darlington to Saltburn.

– ScotRail

No trains will run north of Glasgow or Edinburgh on strike days.

Just two trains per hour will run between the cities via Falkirk High and one per hour via Shotts, in each direction.

There will also be two trains per hour on each of these routes: Edinburgh to Bathgate; Glasgow to Hamilton/Larkhall; and Glasgow to Lanark.

– South Western Railway

A “severely limited service” will run, and only on some routes.

This includes just four trains per hour between London Waterloo and both Windsor and Woking, and two per hour between London Waterloo and both Basingstoke and Southampton, in each direction.

– Southeastern

Many stations and routes will be closed, and a severely reduced service will operate elsewhere.

There will be no services to or from London Victoria or Charing Cross.

The vast majority of the network in Kent and East Sussex will be closed.

The high-speed route to Ashford International will be open.

– Southern

Much of the network will be shut down.

Services will run on the Brighton Mainline to London Bridge and London Victoria, with additional trains from Tattenham Corner, Epsom Downs, Sutton and West Croydon via Crystal Palace.

– Stansted Express

Train will run hourly between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport, instead of every 30 minutes.

No services will run from Stansted Airport to Norwich and Cambridge.

– Thameslink

There will be far fewer trains than normal.

Services will be split north and south, with nothing running between London St Pancras and London Bridge.

– TransPennine Express

There will only be a very limited service, with just these routes open: Manchester Airport to Preston; Manchester Piccadilly to York; Newcastle to Edinburgh; and Cleethorpes to Sheffield.

– Transport for Wales

Most lines will be closed.

An hourly service will run between Cardiff and Newport, with limited trains elsewhere.

West Midlands Railway

A limited service will operate only between Lichfield Trent Valley and Redditch/Bromsgrove via Birmingham New Street; Crewe and Birmingham New Street via Wolverhampton; and Birmingham New Street and Northampton.

SWR passengers should only ‘travel by rail is absolutely necessary'

06:49 , Elly Blake

Passengers on South Western Rail are being advised to “travel by rail if absolutely necessary during the RMT strike today”

They said there will be a “severely reduced service from 0730 to 1830 only, with many routes closed”.

First and last trains will be very busy, the operator added.

Great Anglia warns of ‘heavy disruption’ as strike goes ahead

06:50 , Elly Blake

Avanti West Coast: Limited service and trains expected to be busy

06:56 , Elly Blake

Avanti West Coast has said that it is strongly advising its customers to “only travel if absolutely necessary” due to strike action on Wednesday.

The train operator told its customers: “There will be a limited service and trains are expected to be busy.

“The following morning may also be impacted, so please plan ahead and check before you travel.”

How many trains are running on Wednesday?

06:58 , Elly Blake

Only around one in five trains will run on Wednesday, on around half the network, with some areas having no trains all day.

Picket lines were being mounted outside train stations as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 14 train operators went on strike.

Passengers are being urged to only travel by train if they must, and if it is necessary, allow extra time and check when their last train will depart.

Birmingham New Street has only a handful of passengers

07:32 , Elly Blake

At Birmingham New Street station, where passenger numbers are expected to increase with the Commonwealth Games starting tomorrow, there is a reduced list of departures during the strike action.

The boards showed the first train to London Euston station was not due to leave until 8.50am, and there were only a handful of passengers waiting on the main concourse.

A picket of RMT workers stood outside the city’s distinctive signal box.

Cabinet minister says talks are a ‘red herring’

07:33 , Elly Blake

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described union calls for him to join negotiations to resolve rail strikes as “a complete red herring”.

He told Sky News: “It’s just a game by the unions. It’s a complete red herring as well, by the way, and it’s simply not how strikes are resolved.

“It can only ever be the employer, in this case Network Rail, the train operating companies and the unions.”

He went on: “We have to have this modernisation. It’s there to be sorted out and therefore a pay rise can be had as well, but I’m afraid the unions have been incredibly militant about this.”

Labour shadow minister joins picket line

07:38 , Elly Blake

Shadow transport minister Sam Tarry joined striking workers on the picket line at Euston Station in London, in defiance of Sir Keir Starmer’s orders to stay away.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “If we don’t make a stand today, people’s lives could be lost.

“Some of the lowest-paid workers are on strike today in the rail industry, safety critical workers, workers who make sure our railways get people to work and do so safely.

“It can’t be accepted anymore, that people just have to accept that inflation is out of control. The Government’s doing nothing on the cost-of-living crisis.”

Asked whether he expected to be sacked by Sir Keir, Mr Tarry said: “I’ve no idea what Keir will decide to do but I know this – if Keir was in government right now, this dispute wouldn’t be happening.”

He added: “I have absolutely 100% confidence that any Labour Party MP would be in support of striking workers who have given up a day’s pay, a week’s pay or even longer.”

Grant Shapps says Sam Tarry in ‘direct defiance’ of Keir Starmer

08:01 , Elly Blake

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps predicted that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will sack shadow transport minister Sam Tarry after he went on a picket line outside London Euston station.

Mr Shapps told Sky News: “It’s clearly in direct defiance of Sir Keir Starmer who told his front bench that they shouldn’t be (on picket lines).

“No doubt he’ll want to remove him from his job.”

Man affected by strikes says his journey home will ‘take four to five hours’ by bike

08:10 , Elly Blake

Victims Support worker Fabian Ward, 27, who had finished a night shift in Birmingham was sat near the New Street station departure boards next to his Brompton bike, “brain-storming” how best to get back to Telford, after finding his train cancelled.

He said: “I’m thinking how to get home.

“I might just take a nice slow bike ride back to Telford – it should take four to five hours,” he said, adding: “I wish I had my road bike.”

Waterloo Station is quieter due to rail strikes

08:20 , Elly Blake

Waterloo Station in London was much quieter than usual during rush hour on Wednesday.

Only a few dozen passengers were dotted about the station.

Usually, there would be thousands of people passing through every morning.

Tourists say rail strikes is their ‘welcome to England'

08:26 , Elly Blake

Tourists Mark and Zuzana, from Czech Republic, said their Paris to London Eurostar train arrived in England yesterday, to an announcement there was a national rail strike.

Zuzana said at New Street Station in Birmingham: “It was like, ‘welcome to England’.”

The industrial action meant the cancellation of their Euston to Glasgow train, which had been due to arrive at 7.22am on Wednesday.

They were advised by station staff in London to get an overnight bus to Birmingham where they might find a connection north, but finding no hotel rooms spent a night of broken sleep on the floor of Digbeth coach station.

Union boss says strikes are because of ‘deep cost of living crisis that Tories have created'

08:38 , Elly Blake

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), told the PA news agency: “Our members in Avanti West Coast are out on strike because the deep cost-of-living crisis that the Tories have created is meaning that they’re losing purchasing power.

“Of course many of them have not had a pay increase not just this year, not just last year, but up to four years.

“So, clearly, like the rest of the country, they are feeling the pinch and it’s just getting to the point where it’s unbearable.”

He added that workers have had to take matters “into their own hands”, but that TSSA members – who are also striking on August 18 and 20 – did not take the decision likely.

“Our members are not known for their militancy… for many of them this is the first time they’ve taken part in a ballot for industrial action, never mind any kind of industrial action,” he said.

“But, like the rest of the country, they’re feeling the pinch of the deep cost-of-living crisis the Tories have created.”

Jeremy Corbyn spotted on picket line

08:40 , Elly Blake

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was out on the picket line on Wednesday morning.

The now independent MP for Islington North was at Euston station to stand in solidarity with rail workers.

Waterloo still seeing some services running

08:45 , Elly Blake

Some services are still arriving at Waterloo Station, with hundreds of passengers streaming off trains at 8.10am and 8.30am.

However, the station is still quiet compared to normal.

The Kingston & Shepperton, Surbiton & Cobham and Portsmouth Direct lines are all closed.

The Chessington & Epsom, Hounslow Loop, Reading & Windsor and South Western Mainline services are all running a limited timetable.

Union boss accuses Grant Shapps of having ‘gone on strike himself'

08:50 , Elly Blake

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), told the PA news agency that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps “appears to have gone on strike himself”.

“I’ve got a very simple message for Grant Shapps, because at the moment the problem we’ve got is that, when we go into negotiation with the train operation companies, they’re not in control, they’re not free to negotiate.

“They have to go and seek authority from Grant Shapps for any offer that they may be able to put on the table.

“My message to Grant Shapps is very simple: either you get out of the way, or you get involved directly in talks. I don’t care which one it is, but unless he does that we’ve got no way to reach a settlement.”

Mr Cortes added: “Grant Shapps appears to have gone on strike himself – he’s not come anywhere near the negotiations.”

Grant Shapps insists he is ‘reasonable’ as strikes take hold around the country

09:13 , Elly Blake

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted he is a “reasonable guy”.

Asked about his plans to restrict strikes, the Cabinet minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m a reasonable guy and I think that people should have the right to withdraw their labour and strike.

“The question is one of proportionality. We have, in this country, a railway that still works, in many cases, on rules and regulations from the ’70s, the ’60s, the ’50s and in one case from 1919. That’s where the lack of Sunday working comes from.

“We simply have to modernise it.”

He added: “It is perfectly reasonable to withdraw your labour. You shouldn’t be able to ballot on one subject, as has happened here, and then widen the strike out to everything else, and then keep it going in a forever strike kind of fashion.”

‘People are just used to it now’: Commuter at Victoria station describes mood of rail strikes

09:32 , Elly Blake

Victoria Station in London is quieter than usual amid the strikes.

While passengers stream off the scheduled trains, the station is calm.

One commuter quipped that the lack of chaos was down to the fact that “people are just used to it now” after the three days of strikes last month.

They claimed that after a rocky few months for the rail services, people are “used to finding other modes of transport, like buses or taxis”.

Jeremy Corbyn says ‘degree of poverty pay’ within rail industry ‘huge'

09:52 , Elly Blake

Jeremy Corbyn, who joined union members on the picket line outside Euston station, said the Government’s behaviour amid the strikes had been “utterly extraordinary”.

“Their behaviour is utterly extraordinary, and then the two leadership contenders, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, are now proposing to make public sector strikes illegal which would of course be contrary to the provisions of the International Labour Organisation convention,” he said.

The former Labour leader and now independent MP told the PA news agency that he was supporting the strikes because “the degree of poverty pay within the rail industry is huge, and now the levels of job insecurity have grown as well”.

“This is a strike to ensure that there is proper negotiation to bring about a resolution to this – so it’s a message to Grant Shapps that if you can’t help, keep out of the way and allow an agreement to be reached between the unions and the train companies or positively support it.”

Mr Corbyn said “there are three Labour MPs here on this picket line, and no doubt there are all over the country”.

“I think Members of Parliament represent their constituencies and hear day to day what their constituents want, and they’re doing the right thing by being there with the workers in dispute,” he added.

Pictured: Union boss with strikers on the picket line

09:56 , Elly Blake

RMT boss Mick Lynch with rail workers on strike (Getty Images)
RMT boss Mick Lynch with rail workers on strike (Getty Images)

Discontent at Bristol Temple Meads railway station

10:22 , Elly Blake

Around one-third of all working hours across the rail network are filled by staff working overtime, striking workers in Bristol claim.

Staff on the picket line said the railway is an attractive option for school leavers because they can receive training on the job rather than spend on a degree.

But Maureen, a guard of 32 years’ experience on the picket line at Bristol Temple Meads, said rail companies were reluctant to invest in staff.

“They expect one person to do two people’s job and they prefer to rely on overtime,” she said.

Cost of living crisis playing a factor in rail strikes, says teacher

10:52 , Elly Blake

Emma Davis, 35, has been on the official RMT picket line at Sheffield station since early this morning.

The teacher brought a tray of bacon rolls for strikers to snack on and said many people had shown their support by beeping their horns.

She said: “I think for all workers at the moment we are experiencing the biggest cost-of-living crisis in decades and the rail workers are really leading the way and resisting it and fighting for better conditions for all workers. I think it’s really important that all workers are getting behind them.”

Emma went on strike over pay in 2015 and is part of the National Education Union.

She added: “It’s not just about rail workers, it’s about every single section of society feeling the pinch unless you’re at the very top and they’re getting much richer. I think that’s becoming more obvious, that they are profiting off the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.”

Grant Shapps threatens to dismantle union powers to walk out

10:59 , Elly Blake

The transport secretary has repeated threats to dismantle trade union powers to strike as industrial action ground the railways to a halt again on Wednesday.

Grant Shapps said he would remove the ability of “militant, extreme left unions“ to walk out.

About 40,000 Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union are on strike over a bitter disputes over jobs, pay, pensions and working conditions.

Read the full article here.

Woman unable to attend relative’s funeral due to rail strike

11:28 , Elly Blake

A woman who was unable to attend her uncle’s funeral because of the rail strike disruption said the situation has made her feel “less of a part of my family”.

Jen, from Havant, Hampshire, who did not want her last name published, said she was meant to travel from Portsmouth to Spalding in Lincolnshire for the funeral on Wednesday, but strike action has forced her to watch the service remotely.

“I feel like I’m not doing my duty as a family member, but I don’t have any control over the situation,” the 42-year-old told the PA news agency.

“I just feel further disconnected from my family now, like I’m less of a part of my family.

“I would also like a pay rise in line with inflation but in reality that won’t happen. I don’t choose to mess around with people’s lives because of it.

“And it angers me when they say ‘Oh, just work from home’ or ‘Just travel on a different day’ because people don’t ‘only’ travel for trivial reasons. I won’t get this day back.”

Congestion levels up on Wednesday following rail strikes

11:32 , Elly Blake

Figures from location technology firm TomTom show the level of road congestion in several cities at 9am on Wednesday was up slightly compared with the same time on Tuesday.

They include London and Cardiff (both up three percentage points), Glasgow (up five percentage points), Leeds (up seven percentage points) and Liverpool (up two percentage points).

The figures represent the proportion of additional time required for journeys compared with free-flow conditions.

Strikes seeming to have little effect on Gatwick Airport rail station

11:44 , Elly Blake

Rail strikes seem to have had little effect on Gatwick Airport railway station this morning.

Trains towards London Bridge, London Victoria, Three Bridges and Brighton are all currently running on time.

There were significant delays and disruption at the airport station during rail strike action earlier last month.

There is a significantly smaller staff presence on the platforms today compared with the strikes in June, where multiple members of staff were on duty on each platform to guide passengers.

Double pain for Swedish fans

12:39 , Will Mata

Two football fans from Sweden faced double disappointment after getting caught up in the rail strikes following their team's Euro 2022 semi-final defeat to England.

Rebecka Ronnegard, 26, and Felix Nystrom, 27, have been in the UK for two weeks following the women's tournament and watched the game at Bramall Lane on Tuesday, where the Lionesses scored a stunning 4-0 victory.

The following morning, the couple found themselves facing disruption at Sheffield station as they tried to travel to Milton Keynes to watch Germany and France battle it out in the second semi-final.

Ms Ronnegard, a political secretary, said: "There is a train to Birmingham where we can change to go to Milton Keynes so that's what we're hoping to do, that was our plan. But right now I feel like if we get to Birmingham we're lucky.

"If they don't run any trains, the time doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that we have all day. There needs to be a train for us to get there."

Labour frontbencher joins picket line, in defiance of Keir Starmer policy

13:18 , Will Mata

A Labour frontbencher has defied Sir Keir Starmer’s ban on joining the picket line in support of striking rail workers.

The Labour leader had again told his frontbench MPs to stay away, after failing to prevent some from joining the protests earlier this summer.

Shadow transport minister Sam Tarry stood alongside striking workers at London’s Euston station on Wednesday morning.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “If we don’t make a stand today, people’s lives could be lost.

“Some of the lowest-paid workers are on strike today in the rail industry, safety-critical workers, workers who make sure our railways get people to work and do so safely.

“It can’t be accepted anymore that people just have to accept that inflation is out of control. The Government’s doing nothing on the cost-of-living crisis.”

Shapps attacked over ‘right to strike'

13:30 , William Mata

Unions have reacted with anger to proposals by the Transport Secretary to crack down on strikes amid the long-running rail dispute.

Grant Shapps set out a series of plans in a newspaper interview, including stopping co-ordinated industrial action, limiting picketing and having a cooling-off period after strikes.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “I’m looking at banning strikes by different unions in the same workplace within a set period. We should also place an absolute limit of six pickets at points of Critical National Infrastructure, irrespective of the number of unions involved, and outlaw intimidatory language.

“Ballot papers should also set out clearly the specific reason for industrial action and the form of action to be taken. In addition, before strike dates are announced, employers should have the right to respond to the issue cited on the ballot paper.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “If Grant Shapps had his way we would all still be in the workhouse.”

Network Rail: Limited services running today

14:34 , Elly Blake

Striking Network Rail workers ‘have lost £1,500 in pay and bonuses’

15:27 , Elly Blake

Network Rail (NR) workers taking part in a series of strikes have lost around £1,500 each in pay and bonuses, according to the company.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) were on strike for the fourth time on Wednesday in a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

NR’s chief executive Andrew Haines said he thought an agreement had been reached with RMT negotiators two weeks ago that an offer would be put to a ballot of members.

The following day more strikes were announced, he said.

After another meeting last week there was a “very clear belief” that RMT negotiators were going to call off the strikes.

Rayner tells Shapps to ‘go back to the negotiating table'

16:02 , Daniel Keane

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour Party, and shadow secretary of state for the future of work, has urged Grant Shapps to “go back to the negotiating table” and find a settlement with the RMT.

She said: "Instead of finding a way to resolve the strikes, the Government is dreaming up reckless and impractical anti-worker laws that have no place in a modern country.

"We are facing record delays on the railways, disruption at the ports and backlogs stretching for miles, all while wages fall behind soaring bills.

"But Tory ministers are too busy fighting amongst themselves in their leadership election to tackle the problems facing the country.

"The one thing the Transport Secretary can do to resolve these disputes is to do his own job and get back to the negotiating table.

"Instead, we get yet more pie-in-the-sky plans that risk public safety, strip British workers of their rights and inflame industrial relations.

"As a pro-worker and pro-business Party, Labour has a plan to grow the economy, transform workers' rights and secure fair pay."

Watch: Mick Lynch speaks out on National Rail strikes across the UK

16:26 , Daniel Keane

Fresh train strikes announced for August 13

16:51 , Daniel Keane

Train drivers at nine rail companies are to strike on August 13 over pay, their union Aslef announced.

Aslef boss says strikes are ‘last resort’

17:11 , Daniel Keane

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: "Strikes are always the last resort.

"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 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.

"With inflation running at north of 10% that means those drivers have had a real-terms pay cut over the last three years.

"We want an increase in line with the cost of living - we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021.

"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.

"Wage rises aren't fuelling inflation. Excess profiteering is, but the Government isn't asking companies to cut profits or dividend payments to help manage inflation. Wages are chasing prices, not putting them up.

"We don't see why we should forego an increase in salary to keep pace with inflation and help the privatised train companies make even bigger profits to send abroad."

Shadow transport minister Sam Tarry sacked

17:32 , William Mata

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party will always stand up for working people fighting for better pay, terms and conditions at work.

“This isn’t about appearing on a picket line. Members of the frontbench sign up to collective responsibility. That includes media appearances being approved and speaking to agreed frontbench positions.

Read more here

Call for general strike if Liz Truss becomes PM

17:42 , Will Mata

A union boss has called for a general strike if Liz Truss becomes Prime Minister and brings in legislation to halt strikes affecting the country.

The Foreign Secretary has pledged to ensure “militant action” from trade unions can no longer “paralyse” the economy if she wins the Tory leadership contest.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said “coordinated and synchronised industrial action” would be needed if legislation is brought in.

He went on to say the “very dangerous situation” risks taking the country back to “Victorian times”.

The comments came as strikes by members of the RMT and Transport Salaried Staffs Association crippled services on Wednesday, with only around one in five trains running and some areas having none at all.

Meanwhile, Aslef announced its members will walk out on Saturday August 13, saying train firms failed to make a pay offer to help members keep pace with increases in the cost of living.

A general strike, which can only be called by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), is when a “substantial proportion” of workers in multiple sectors refuse to work until their demands, usually around pay and working conditions, are met.

Truss slams 'militant trade unions’ as ‘simply wrong’

17:52 , William Mata

Liz Truss has said “militant trade unions” are “simply wrong” for causing “chaos” across the country.

The Foreign Secretary insisted she was on the side of “hard-working people” when asked about suggestions by Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) chief Mick Lynch that she had made proposals that would effectively outlaw meaningful industrial action.

“I’m on the side of hard-working people who need to get into work every day and use the trains,” she told broadcasters in Romford.

“I will legislate to make sure an essential service is provided so that militant trade unions can’t disrupt our country and our economy.

“We’re facing a global economic crisis, we need to do everything we can to support people getting into work and it’s simply wrong for the trade unions to be trying to cause this chaos at this very difficult time for our country.”

‘Strikes are the last resort’

18:02 , Will Mata

Aslef announced its members will walk out on Saturday August 13, saying the firms failed to make a pay offer to help members keep pace with increases in the cost of living.

Drivers are already set to strike this Saturday at seven companies and on Wednesday Aslef members at two more train operators voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.

The announcement was made as strikes by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union and Transport Salaried Staffs Association crippled services on Wednesday, with only around one in five trains running and some areas having none at all.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: “Strikes are always the last resort.

“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 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.

“With inflation running at north of 10 per cent that means those drivers have had a real-terms pay cut over the last three years.

“We want an increase in line with the cost of living - we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021.

“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.

“Wage rises aren’t fuelling inflation. Excess profiteering is, but the Government isn’t asking companies to cut profits or dividend payments to help manage inflation. Wages are chasing prices, not putting them up.

“We don’t see why we should forego an increase in salary to keep pace with inflation and help the privatised train companies make even bigger profits to send abroad.”

Drivers at Avanti West Coast and CrossCountry voted by more than 9-1 to go on strike, it was announced on Wednesday.

They will strike on August 13 alongside drivers at Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains.

A row broke out between unions and the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps after he laid out plans to curb industrial action, including stopping coordinated industrial action, limiting picketing and having a cooling off period after strikes.

Jeremy Corbyn defends Labour MPs on strike

18:38 , Will Mata

Jeremy Corbyn, the former party leader and now independent MP, told PA outside Euston station: “There are three Labour MPs here on this picket line, and no doubt there are all over the country.

“I think Members of Parliament represent their constituencies and hear day to day what their constituents want, and they’re doing the right thing by being there with the workers in dispute.”

Sam Tarry ‘proud’ to have made a stand

18:41 , Will Mata

Sam Tarry, who has been sacked as a Labour frontbencher after joining a picket line, said he is “proud” to stand with striking rail workers.

In a statement, he said: “These key workers kept our train services running throughout the pandemic, and were among Britain’s Covid heroes alongside the NHS and other public services.

“Those same workers have been forced to take action because they’re faced with a cost-of-living crisis and rampant inflation caused by the Government’s mismanagement of our economy, leaving millions struggling to pay their bills and provide for their families, made worse by the fact that callous and incompetent ministers refuse to even negotiate with their trade unions.

“This dispute would not be taking place under a Labour government, which would ensure that rail workers receive a fair wage.

“It has been a privilege to serve on Labour’s frontbench for the past two years and to have had the opportunity to speak up for hard-pressed workers who deserve so much better than the treatment they’ve received from this corrupt and out-of-touch Government.

“I remain committed to supporting the striking rail workers, and campaigning for a Labour victory at the next general election, which I will fight for relentlessly from the backbenches.”

Other Labour MPs joined picket line

19:04 , Daniel Keane

Brent Central MP Dawn Butler, Birmingham Hall Green MP Tahir Ali, Gateshead MP Ian Mearns and South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck were among those sharing photos of themselves on social media from picket lines.

Jeremy Corbyn, the former party leader and now independent MP, told PA outside Euston station: "There are three Labour MPs here on this picket line, and no doubt there are all over the country.

"I think Members of Parliament represent their constituencies and hear day to day what their constituents want, and they're doing the right thing by being there with the workers in dispute."

Pictured: Trains parked at Kings Cross station during strikes

19:46 , Daniel Keane

 (AP)
(AP)

Sacking of shadow minister prompts union backlash against Starmer

20:19 , Daniel Keane

Trade union leaders have condemned Labour for sacking a frontbencher after he joined a picket line in support of striking workers - and claimed it will lose the next election if it alienates union members.

Sam Tarry, the shadow transport minister, was fired after defying Sir Keir Starmer's ban on appearing at the demonstrations and standing alongside striking workers at London's Euston station on Wednesday morning.

Following the move, union bosses warned the party would be unable to win back Red Wall seats in a general election if it fails to "identify with working class people's needs."

Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) General Secretary Manuel Cortes said the union was "ashamed" of Labour and suggested it was "deluded" to think the party could defeat the Conservatives without the support of union members.

Mr Cortes said: "Sam is one of us. He grew up in the trade union movement and trade unionism is in his blood. Today Sam did the right thing and stood shoulder to shoulder with rail workers striking for fairness and safety at work.

"Whatever excuses the Labour Party makes about the reasons for Sam being sacked, the reality is that Sam has shown solidarity with his class and we applaud him for that.

"The Labour Party needs to wake up and smell the coffee.”

That’s all from us today

21:14 , Daniel Keane

Thank you for following today’s live coverage of the rail strike.

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