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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jack Simpson

Rail strikes: public told to check before travelling on second day of Aslef action

An LNER train
LNER will be running about 25% of its normal timetable. Photograph: iWebbstock/Alamy

Rail passengers across Great Britain have been told to check before they travel as a second day of strikes by train drivers will result in most services being suspended on six major lines.

Industrial action by the drivers’ union Aslef will mean staff working for Chiltern Railways, Great Western Railway, Heathrow Express, LNER, Northern and TransPennine Express (TPE) staging a 24-hour strike on Saturday.

The will be no Chiltern, Northern or TPE services, while Great Western, LNER and Heathrow Express will run heavily reduced timetable. The six companies have also warned that Saturday’s industrial action could affect services on Sunday.

LNER, which runs trains on the east coast mainline, said it would be putting on 35 services between London, Edinburgh and West Yorkshire on Saturday, about 25% of its normal timetable.

Great Western, which runs services from London Paddington to south-west England and south Wales, said it would be offering an “extremely limited service” on some routes, with a reduced operating window of 7am to 7pm. Heathrow Express will also run with a reduced frequency, of every 30 minutes, rather than the usual 15 minutes.

Train drivers in Scotland and Wales are not on strike but LNER and Great Western’s cross-border rail services are expected to be disrupted.

The strikes coincide with an overtime ban by Aslef for all operators, that began on Thursday and will continue into Saturday, with another planned for Monday and Tuesday. It is expected that the ban will increase the likelihood of short-notice cancellations and disruption.

The strikes follow action on Friday by drivers working for Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, East Midlands, London Northwestern and West Midlands railways.

Monday is the last day of rolling strikes, with Greater Anglia, Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern/Gatwick Express, Southeastern, South Western and SWR Island Line all affected.

Speaking before the action, Aslef’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, said: “We want what we have always wanted, having done our duty along, with many other key workers, during the pandemic, we didn’t seek a pay rise to two years.

“We looked for a simple pay rise afterwards only to find out that the people that we work for have signed rather dubious deals with the government, to limit our pay rises.

“We don’t want to be here; we don’t want to be standing on picket lines, losing money; we want a better, safer, cleaner railway.”

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the train operators, said: “We are sorry that this round of strikes called by the Aslef leadership risks disrupting journeys.

“While we are doing all we can to keep trains running and we will work with our industry partners to keep as many trains running as possible, unfortunately there will be reduced services between Thursday 4 April to Tuesday 9 April. Our advice is to check before you travel and follow the latest travel information.”

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