Train drivers are to strike over the next week in a long-running dispute over pay, rail passengers are being warned.
Members of Aslef across 16 train companies are to refuse overtime and will stage a series of strikes from today until 9 December.
Services will affected the evening before and morning following each strike between 2 and 8 December.
Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, said, “We are going on strike again not to inconvenience passengers, but to express our disgust at the intransigence of this Government, and the bad faith shown by the private companies which employ us.
“It is clear that the Tory Government does not want to resolve this dispute. We haven’t had a meeting with Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, since December 2022.
“We haven’t had a meeting with Huw Merriman, the rail minister, since January this year, and we haven’t heard from the employers since April.
“We are prepared to come to the table and negotiate but the train operating companies and the Tories that stand behind them are not.
“This is turning into a political, rather than an industrial, dispute. They simply can’t be bothered.
“They are happy to see this dispute rumble on, for passengers and businesses to suffer, and to drive Britain’s railways – once the envy of the world – into a managed decline.”
He added, “We are determined to win this dispute and get a significant pay rise for train drivers who have not had an increase since 2019 while the cost of living, in that time, has soared.
“Our strikes have forced TOCs to cancel services and the ban on overtime has seriously disrupted the network as none of the train companies employs enough drivers to provide a proper service – the service they have promised passengers and businesses they will deliver – without asking drivers to work their rest days.”
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “This unnecessary and avoidable industrial action called by the Aslef leadership has been targeted to disrupt customers and businesses ahead of the vital festive period, where people will be attending events and catching up with friends and loved ones.
“It will also inflict further damage on an industry that is receiving up to an additional £175 million a month in taxpayer cash to keep services running, following the Covid downturn.
“The Aslef leadership are blocking a fair and affordable offer made by industry in the spring which would take average driver base salaries for a four-day week from £60,000 to nearly £65,000.
“We urge them to put it to its members, give Christmas back to our customers, and end this damaging industrial dispute.”