Members of both the drivers’ union Aslef and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) have walked out on Wednesday, causing huge disruption to services.
The dispute will continue until the government intervenes, warned Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan.
He urged transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan to “lift the shackles” from train companies so they could make a pay offer to workers.
“The message I am receiving from my members is that they are in this for the long haul and if anything they want industrial action to be increased,” he said.
Ms Trevelyan suggested that she now sees the perspective of the railway workers “more clearly” following a meeting with Mr Whelan and RMT general secretary Mick Lynch.
Speaking to speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, she said she met the pair “because I really wanted to understand where they’re coming from”.
'Everywhere we go the public are supporting us’ - Mick Lynch
Wednesday 5 October 2022 17:42 , Lucy Thackray
The RMT Union general secretary Mick Lynch has warned that train strikes could continue for six months if there is no progress in talks with rail industry employers.
Speaking at the Aslef picket line in Euston today, Mr Lynch said his union is reballoting now for a fresh mandate for further industrial action.
“Everywhere we go the public are supporting us in numbers. They turn out on the rallies and the demonstrations as well,” said Mr Lynch.
“You’ve only got to look at social media – the vast majority of people are supporting us in their comments and we think that will continue across the campaign.”
He added that union members had “not seen anything tangible besides a handshake and a cup of tea at this stage”.
Andrew Haines, the chief executive of Network Rail, said it was not fair to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for rail staff pay rises.
“We want to give our employees a decent pay rise,” he said.
“It isn’t fair to ask taxpayers or passengers to fund this so we must fund it ourselves, which is achievable if the unions work with us to modernise and run the railway more efficiently.”
‘It’s a bleak time for travellers. It has to be sorted out soon’
Wednesday 5 October 2022 17:00 , Simon Calder
Simon Calder, travel correspondent of The Independent, reports from London Paddington station for his daily podcast – about the “long and very, very bitter dispute” between rail unions, train operators, Network Rail and the government.
“There are trains running on Great Western Railway today, even though drivers are on strike.
“The Heathrow Express isn’t running, but airline passengers can reach the airport on the Elizabeth line.
“At the moment there’s no sign of a solution to all this.
“On Saturday it’s the big one: the RMT union has called out more than 40,000 members, closing down at least half the Great Britain rail network.
“It’s a bleak time for travellers. It has to be sorted out soon.”
Listen to the episode here:
All the train operators affected by today’s strikes
Wednesday 5 October 2022 16:13 , Helen Coffey
Rail services across the UK continue to be affected today’s train strike.
Impacted operators include: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, Greater Anglia (including Stansted Express), Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Transpennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
Read our full explainer on October rail strikes here:
Southeastern and East Midlands Railway will run some trains on Saturday
Wednesday 5 October 2022 15:50 , Simon Calder
Two of the rail firms who have cancelled all their services on Wednesday say they will run a reduced timetable on Saturday 8 October – the day of the next national rail strike.
Southeastern and East Midlands Railway (EMR) have scrapped all trains because of the strike by train drivers belonging to Aslef. The union members have stopped work in pursuit of a pay increase.
On Saturday, members of the RMT union will walk out nationwide in a separate dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions. But both train operators – which have hubs at London St Pancras International – intend to run a skeleton service between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
EMR will run hourly trains in each direction from London to Sheffield via Derby, Nottingham via Leicester and Corby via Luton airport.
There will also be hourly links from Derby to both Matlock and Nottingham, and between Sheffield and Nottingham.
Southeastern will operate high-speed services from St Pancras to Ashford, as well as shorter, slower journeys from London Bridge to Sevenoaks and to Dartford on routes via Greenwich, Blackheath and Bexley.
Union boss urges government to ‘take shackles off’ private rail firms
Wednesday 5 October 2022 15:28 , Mustafa Qadri
A rail union boss has urged the government to “take the shackles off the privateers” as thousands of train workers walk out over pay and working conditions in the latest of a series of strikes.
Around 9,000 train drivers walked out on Wednesday as part of fresh strike action by the Aslef and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) union, leading to the cancellation of services across the country.
The strike affected the following operators: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, Great Western, LNER, Northern, Southeastern, Transpennine Express, West Midlands Trains, Hull Trains and East Midlands Railway.
The latest strike action marks the second this week, following the biggest walkout of the year on Saturday. Another will take place on Saturday by the RMT union.
Read the full story:
Mick Lynch slams Truss’s speech
Wednesday 5 October 2022 14:27 , Simon Calder
In response to Liz Truss’s speech, RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “It is ironic that trade unions are labelled the anti-growth coalition when it is the Conservative government who are cutting services, jobs and billions of pounds worth of investment from our railways.
“Unions represent the hopes and aspirations of ordinary working people across the country by winning better pay and conditions.
“Instead of maligning unions, the Prime Minister should turn her attention to the national rail dispute and help foster a negotiated settlement on job security, pay and working conditions.”
‘A 5 per cent pay deal would cost around £280m a year – double what train operators made in 20/21’
Wednesday 5 October 2022 13:43 , Simon Calder
The Rail Delivery Group has responded to union claims that private companies are making hundreds of millions in profits at the expense of taxpayers and travellers.
On Twitter, the body representing train operators said: “There is some reporting of claims made by unions that a pay deal can be funded from industry profits.
“How the railway is funded has changed. The franchise model no longer exists.
“Train operators are paid on a performance-related fixed fee basis and make a profit margin to provide service – like all other government suppliers.
“A 5 per cent pay deal across the whole industry would cost around £280m a year. That’s around double what train operators made in 20/21.
“The industry is still recovering from the pandemic. Passenger numbers remain 20 per cent below pre-covid levels. Revenue is at 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, with 100 per cent of the costs.
“Reforms will help fund a pay rise and deliver a better, safer, and more affordable railway.
“Without these reforms, we simply can’t afford the pay deal we want for our people.”
Earlier Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan told The Independent: “Everybody we work for is turning over hundreds of millions of pounds.”
Are there more train strikes in October?
Wednesday 5 October 2022 13:29 , Lucy Thackray
With members of the Aslef and TSSA unions walking out from their rail jobs on Wednesday, many commuters and leisure travellers are enduring their second train strike in a week.
The first industrial action of the month took place on Saturday 1 October, when some 40,000 RMT members working across various roles on the UK’s railways walked out for 24 hours.
Today’s strike is not the last of the month - RMT members working for Network Rail and 14 individual train operators will also walk out this Saturday, 8 October.
A walk-out by around 5,000 railway signallers means that half the rail network will be closed, with a much-reduced service on the remainder.
Non-union members will enable a service to run between 7.30am and 6.30pm only across about half the network.
On top of this, RMT members working for ScotRail plan to strike on Monday 10 October.
Here’s everything you need to know about this month’s rail strikes:
Transport secretary promises ‘more jobs and higher wages’
Wednesday 5 October 2022 13:03 , Simon Calder
With many of the nation’s rail services halted by a strike by 9,000 train drivers, the new transport secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has promised “more jobs and higher wages”.
Shortly after the prime minister’s speech at the Conservative conference in Birmingham, Ms Trevelyan tweeted: “We're unashamedly going for growth.
“The way that all of our modes of transport are powered is changing at pace.
“That’s why we're investing record amounts in our roads, railways and future green transport solutions, so that business can grow on the back of clean transport.”
Earlier, the general secretary of Aslef, Mick Whelan, told The Independent: ”We are not seeking the last three years that we've lost, we're not looking for the two years when we had no pay [rise] during the pandemic.”
He said that the series of strikes would end “when someone talks to us”.
Strike problems hit London travellers
Wednesday 5 October 2022 12:38 , Simon Calder
The strike by members of the train drivers’ union, Aslef, is affecting many travellers in London, even though the Underground is not directly affected.
The London Overground, which normally runs a busy network through and around the capital, is closed apart from a tiny segment from Barking Riverside to Barking.
The Elizabeth line is operating normally, and is the only rail link to Heathrow airport from London Paddington. The Express service is suspended.
On the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines of the Underground, passengers are facing long delays between trains. But Transport for London says a “good service” is running.
Train strikes cause chaos on roads, says research
Wednesday 5 October 2022 12:13 , Helen Coffey
With further train strikes today, research has revealed how the UK’s roads are being affected.
Real-time Live Map data from Waze suggests heavy traffic in Central London, Manchester and Liverpool.
Ru Roberts, UK Country Manager at Waze, said: “This year’s rail strikes have consistently caused issues for drivers. Waze data shows that last Saturday’s strike alone saw an 8 per cent increase in traffic across London. Today, the workforce is also navigating school runs and daily commutes.
“Motorists faced heavy traffic this morning in areas including Central London, Manchester and Liverpool.
“We’re currently seeing bumper-to-bumper traffic throughout major thoroughfares such as the M25, A40 and M60 with reported speeds of 8 mph.
“Delays will only escalate as we approach rush hour, so drivers should take extra time to check routes before setting off.”
London Euston like a ‘ghost station’ as passengers turned away
Wednesday 5 October 2022 11:23 , Simon Calder
“We’ve been in London for four days. We didn’t know there was a train strike on.”
Hayley and Matthew – young Canadian tourists from Penticton, British Columbia – have just arrived at London Euston station to board the 11.15am to Birmingham New Street – a train they had booked “weeks ago”.
But the terminus for trains to the West Midlands, northwest England and southern Scotland is, for the second time in five days, a ghost station.
Services are normally run by Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Trains. But they are two of the 13 rail firms with whom the train drivers’ union, Aslef, is in dispute, and have cancelled all their trains today.
“We weren’t notified of the strike, unfortunately,” said Matthew.
“Maybe we’ll take a bus,” said Hayley. “We’ll see what we can do anyway.”
The only Megabus departure with space available between London and Birmingham is at 11.30pm and takes four hours. But National Express has laid on extra coaches and has seats available through the afternoon and evening for around £25-£30 one way.
Illness on the rise among rail workers, says research
Wednesday 5 October 2022 11:03 , Helen Coffey
As rail workers strike over pay and working conditions today, it has been revealed that staff sickness in the industry is on the rise.
GoodShape, which holds the single largest database of work-related illness and wellbeing in the UK, found that time off work for poor health in the bus and rail industry has increased 42 per cent since 2019. The estimated direct cost of this absence increased from £828m in H1 2019 to £1.3bn in H1 2022.
The first half of 2022 (1 January to 30 June) also saw 38 per cent more individual instances of mental health-related absence than in the first half of 2019.
Alun Baker, CEO of wellbeing and performance experts GoodShape, said: “The transport sector is in a state of flux, and its workers are weary. Poor mental health is a historic problem for the industry. The service’s frontline experience during the pandemic coupled with the cost-of-living crisis are pushing workers to their limit. It’s important that employers hear and understand these issues, so they can drive measurable, positive change for their people, over and above the issue of pay.”
‘We need the government to take the shackles off the privateers,’ says Mick Whelan
Wednesday 5 October 2022 10:50 , Simon Calder
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan has urged the government “to take the shackles off the privateers” – his description of the 13 train operators with whom the train drivers’ union is in dispute.
Speaking exclusively to The Independent on the picket line at London Euston, he responded to the insistence by the transport secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, that “there is a deal to be done between the unions and our train operators”.
Mr Whelan said: “What we need is for the government to take the shackles off the privateers.
“The privateers have entered into a contract, as you know, not to offer more than 2 per cent on pay. They haven't offered anything at all, by the way.
“When we say ‘that might not be enough,’ they tell us we’ve got to talk to the government.
“When we talk to the government they tell us to go and talk to the people we work for.
“So I think if Anne-Marie Trevelyan truly believes that, she has the ability to change this.
“Basically [train operators] are all constrained by the same constraints the government have put upon them.
“Everybody we work for is paying out to their shareholders. Everybody we work for is turning over hundreds or millions of pounds out of the taxpayer.
“Yet the people that are generating that money, all railway workers and train drivers, are not getting their share.”
Asked when the sequence of strikes might end, he said: “It ends when someone talks to us.”
RMT boss gives ‘full support’ to train drivers’ strike
Wednesday 5 October 2022 10:30 , Mustafa Qadri at Euston station
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, has affirmed his union’s backing for the train drivers’ strike.
Speaking exclusively to The Independent at Euston station, he said: “Aslef are out on strike today and we fully support them.
“They are after the same objectives as we are – which is a pay rise for our members which we haven’t had for three years.
“We’ve got concerns about job security and about conditions of our members.
“The companies are looking for fundamental changes which we think are detrimental and we can’t accept that imposed.
”There’s a lot to cover, we are out supporting our Aslef brothers and sisters and that’s the right thing to do, that’s why we are here.”
The RMT rail union has called another national rail strike for Saturday 10 October.
White-collar rail union strike axes train firm Twitter and Facebook feeds
Wednesday 5 October 2022 10:10 , Simon Calder
At London King's Cross, Grand Central trains are running normally on the East Coast main line to and from West Yorkshire and Teesside.
But the company says: “Due to the TSSA industrial action this week, Grand Central may not be able to respond to customers via Social Media (Twitter/Facebook) from 1400-2200 on Weds 5th and from 1000-2200 on Thurs 6th.
“Our Customer Relations team will still be available to contact on 0345 603 4852.”
Airport rail links heavily disrupted by rail strikes
Wednesday 5 October 2022 09:45 , Simon Calder
Many overseas holidaymakers and incoming visitors are encountering problems reaching or leaving airports because of today’s strike by train drivers belonging to Aslef and working for 13 rail firms.
Birmingham International and East Midlands Parkway stations are closed completely, cutting links to the two Midlands airports.
The only trains to and from Manchester airport are hourly links on Transport for Wales to stations in North Wales.
At London Heathrow, only Elizabeth line services are operating to and from London Paddington – the Heathrow Express is not running.
Stansted airport has only an hourly train link from London Liverpool Street.
As East Midlands Railway is not running, services to and from Luton airport are reduced – but Thameslink trains are running from Kent, Sussex and central London.
Gatwick airport is largely unaffected, though Great Western trains to and from Reading are cancelled.
‘Feels like we’re heading into another winter of discontent’
Wednesday 5 October 2022 09:25 , Simon Calder
A leading travel industry figure has called for “fair pay, conditions and reform” to solve the rail disputes.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, tweeted: “Rail strikes causing misery for so many again.
“Huge disruption for commuters, businesses, hospitals, families, schools etc.
“Feels like we’re heading into another winter of discontent unless the right people get around the table and resolve; fair pay, conditions and reform.”
Rail strikes causing misery for so many again. Huge disruption for commuters, businesses, hospitals, families, schools etc. Feels like we’re heading into another winter of discontent unless the right people get around the table and resolve; fair pay, conditions and reform.
— Julia Lo Bue-Said (@jlo_said) October 5, 2022
How much are rail workers paid?
Wednesday 5 October 2022 09:10 , Eleanor Sly
The Office for National Statistics has estimated the average salary of rail workers to be £43,747 in 2021.
This is based on five different job categories which are: rail and rolling stock builders and repairers, rail travel assistants, rail construction and maintenance operatives, train and tram drivers and rail transport operatives.
If drivers are excluded from the estimate, then it comes to £36,800.
‘As a former trade secretary, I know something about making deals,’ says transport secretary
Wednesday 5 October 2022 09:05 , Simon Calder
The transport secretary used her speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham to urge rail unions to settle their disputes.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “My message to the trade union membership is simple: please take your seats at the negotiating table and let’s find a landing zone which we can all work with.
“Punishing passengers and inflicting damage on our economy by striking is not the answer.
“As a former trade secretary, I know something about making deals. And I can tell you, there is a deal to be done between the unions and our train operators.
“It’s a deal that will require compromise. So I want to see positive proposals to bridge the differences.
“Take your seats at the negotiating table and let’s find a landing zone which we can all work with.”
With all services on Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Trains cancelled on Wednesday, due to the train drivers’ strike by Aslef members, many delegates at the Tory conference are reported to have left the event on Tuesday evening.
‘Another round of railway roulette’
Wednesday 5 October 2022 08:49
Simon Calder, travel correspondent of The Independent, has been on a round of London railway stations this morning.
He reports from King's Cross: “Another round of railway roulette this morning as train drivers belonging to Aslef and working for 13 rail firms walk out in a dispute over pay.
“No services at all on Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Northern, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains.
“LNER is running a skeleton service of trains on the East Coast main line between London and Edinburgh via York and Newcastle.
“Great Western Railway has an hourly shuttle from London Paddington to Reading, Swindon, Bath and Bristol from 7.30am to 6.30pm, also links from Reading to Oxford and Basingstoke.
“Unaffected train firms include South Western Railway, Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern, Transport for Wales, ScotRail and Grand Central.
“But they will all be hit by Saturday's strike when 40,000 RMT members walkout.”
Only one in five trains will run on 8 October.
“The TSSA and Unite unions are also taking action this week.”
Train strikes: what’s happening in October and how will rail passengers be affected?
Wednesday 5 October 2022 08:40 , Eleanor Sly
National rail strikes in disputes over pay, working conditions and jobs have been taking place since June. Another series will hit millions of passengers in early October.
The first strike of the month took place on Saturday 1 October, the day before the Conservative Party conference opened in Birmingham and the eve of the London Marathon. The next date, Wednesday 5 October, coincides with the end of the Tory conference ends.
Meanwhile a third strike, on Saturday 8 October, is aimed at wrecking the plans of leisure passengers.
The Independent’s Travel Correspondent Simon Calder reports:
Network Rail warns of ‘significant disruption’ on railways today
Wednesday 5 October 2022 08:15 , Eleanor Sly
❌ Due to industrial action, you will experience significant disruption on the railway today.
⚠️ Plan ahead and only travel if absolutely necessary:
➡️ https://t.co/J29niIOr7H#Strike #RailStrike pic.twitter.com/7gnzy7wIwf
— Network Rail (@networkrail) October 5, 2022
Which services will be affected by the strikes?
Wednesday 5 October 2022 07:55 , Eleanor Sly
Rail services across the UK will be affected by the strike today.
They include: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, Greater Anglia (including Stansted Express), Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Transpennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
Wednesday 5 October 2022 07:44 , Eleanor Sly
Hello and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of today’s UK train strike. Stay with us for all the latest updates...