Train strikes: Commuters brace for travel chaos as Aslef walkout to decimate rail services

Londoners are being warned to brace for a day of travel chaos on Tuesday with a fresh full-scale walkout set to decimate services on several train lines.

Six train operators will be badly affected by the strike by drivers who are members of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (Aslef) union.

These are Gatwick Express, Great Northern, South Western Railway (including Island Line), Southeastern, Southern and Thameslink.

Most lines are running “very limited services”, while some have advised passengers not to travel unless absolutely necessary and others are not running at all.

As a result, there will be no Southern, Gatwick Express, or Thameslink services on Tuesday, with the some exceptions of a “very limited shuttle service”.

These will be between Gatwick and London Victoria only, between London St Pancras International, Luton Airport Parkway and Luton only, and between London Kings Cross and Cambridge only.

South Western Railway will run a number of limited services between Waterloo and Basingstoke, Feltham, Guildford and Woking between 7am and 7pm, but commuters are being advised that most services will not be operational.


“Our advice is to only travel if absolutely necessary on Tuesday 30 January and to check before travelling on all other affected dates,” said the company’s chief operating officer, Stuart Meek.

“It is also vital that customers check their entire journey on all the affected dates, as other operators will be affected.”

No trains will run on the Southeastern network on Tuesday over the strike.

In addition, walkouts will take place at Northern Trains and TPE on Wednesday; at Greater Anglia and C2C on Friday; and on West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway on Saturday.

The Aslef’s walkout - marking the start over a rolling programme of strikes over the next week - comes as a nine-day Aslef overtime ban kicked in on Monday, causing operators to run a reduced service.

The rolling strikes will see Northern Trains and TPE disrupted on Wednesday, walkouts at LNER, Greater Anglia and C2C on Friday, at West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway on Saturday and Great Western, CrossCountry and Chiltern affected on Monday, February 5.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: "We have given the Government every opportunity to come to the table but it has now been a year since we had any contact from the Department for Transport. It's clear they do not want to resolve this dispute.

"Many of our members have not had a single penny increase to their pay for half a decade, during which time inflation has soared and, with it, the cost of living.”

But a spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operating companies, said: “Instead of staging more damaging industrial action, we call on the ASLEF leadership to work with us to resolve this dispute and deliver a fair deal which both rewards our people, and makes the changes needed to make services more reliable.”

The strikes were expected to be the first test of the minimum service levels legislation, aimed at ensuring train operators could run 40% of services.

But none of the train companies are using the new law, which the Government is also planning to extend to other sectors.

Labour has said it will repeal the law if it wins the next general election.

Downing Street expressed disappointment at rail operators who are not using the minimum service levels legislation.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It's something the rail operators called for many months ago and the public would rightly expect them to be used if strike action is taking place."

Asked if No 10 is disappointed with the operators, he said: "Yes, it's something that we and the public expect them to use.

"It's ultimately up to train operators to effectively manage their services, we have been as clear as possible that they should be as ready to use all powers available to them to reduce the impact of rail strikes on passengers."

It follows a day of disruption on London's transport network on Monday.

It came after some commuters were left facing disruption on the Central Line on Monday evening, over the ongoing shortage of trains.

A motorcyclist died after colliding with a Range Rover that was being pursued by police on the A3 in Roehampton, south-west London, causing severe disruption.