Rail passengers could face further strikes in November as Aslef considers action

Train passengers could face strikes in both late November when train drivers’ union Aslef meets next week to decide on further action later in the month, while RMT industrial action brings a week of disruption from Saturday.

Three 24-hour national rail strikes will bring many train services around the UK to a standstill. A subway strike is also planned. Passengers have been warned to travel only if necessary.

Most services will not run on Saturday 5, Monday 7 and Wednesday 9 November, when members of the RMT union at Network Rail, including thousands of signaling staff, will take action. On the first day of strike action, this Saturday, RMT staff and 15 train operators are joining the strike.

However, the smaller TSSA union has suspended its planned action at Network Rail to facilitate further talks.

Around 20% of normal services are expected to run on strike days, with the first and last trains generally between 7.30am and 6.30pm. Some disruption is expected in the early morning after each strike day.

A strike by London Underground RMT members will bring virtually the entire Tube network to a standstill on Friday 10 November, with action by staff at Arriva Rail London also reducing overground services that day.

Some tube and ground services in the capital will be affected this week by the national train signals strike. The Elizabeth line, which will start running through trains to and from central London from the outer Reading or Shenfield lines for the first time on Sunday, will run fewer trains and indirect services.

The national executive committee of the Aslef train drivers union will meet next week with further strikes on the agenda. Drivers have not taken industrial action since strikes during the Conservative Party conference in early October, but the lack of progress means further strikes are likely before the end of November.

The RMT and Aslef are voting their members at train companies for a further strike mandate, which will last until July 2023 and potentially allow for another six months of strikes.

The unions have yet to meet with the new transport secretary, Mark Harper. But he said on Wednesday he would be “delighted to meet the unions. I’m very happy to do that and my department will reach out to those union leaders in due course,” he said during an appearance on LBC.

Hopes of a breakthrough during former transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s short tenure were raised when she invited union leaders to early meetings, in defiance of her predecessor Grant Shapp’s refusal.

The RMT’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, said this week that rail employers “did not yet have an offer that will create the conditions for a negotiated settlement”, and called on the new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, to “unlock the rail industry”. to allow a deal.

Lynch said: “We will vigorously continue our industrial campaign until we reach an agreement.”

Network Rail has said a “fair and affordable two-year 8% deal” remains on the table, with job security and staff travel. Its chief executive, Andrew Haines, accused the unions of being “more intent on more damaging strikes than working with us to compromise and agree a deal”.

He said: “These strikes are undermining the railway’s recovery from the pandemic and driving passengers away at a time when everyone involved in the railway should be focusing on attracting more passengers and freight forwarders to the network, while building a railway fit for the future.”

TfL said the strike in London, in a dispute over potential changes to jobs and pensions, was “very disappointing”. Its interim chief operating officer, Glynn Barton, said: “No changes to TfL pensions have currently been put forward, and no one has or will lose their job as a result of any proposed changes.”

A strike originally planned for November 3 was called off due to a clash with the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Day call.

The planned strikes in their entirety:

Saturday 5 November
A 24-hour strike by RMT staff at Network Rail and at the following train operators: Great Western Railway, Avanti West Coast, South Western Railway, Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Northern Trains, South Eastern, Transpennine Express, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

Monday 7 November
A 24-hour strike by RMT staff at Network Rail.

Wednesday 9 November
A 24-hour strike by RMT staff on Network Rail, plus some TSSA staff on Avanti West Coast, Southeastern and South Western Railway.

Limited strike action by some TSSA and Unite staff will also take place at various train operators during the week but is not expected to further disrupt services. An overtime ban is also in place for TSSA staff at several operators throughout November.

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