Rail passengers will face huge disruption or be unable to travel today as train drivers at nine operating companies stage a 24-hour strike, halting services in many parts of England, Scotland and Wales.
Thousands of members of the Aslef union are on strike in the latest industrial action in a deadlocked dispute over pay and “modernisation” on the railway.
The strike has stopped most intercity trains between London and the Midlands, northern England and Scotland, and into south Wales. Parts of the UK, including the West Midlands, south-west England and Kent, will have no trains running today.
Train operators have warned passengers to avoid travel on affected routes. Those who attempt to travel should be prepared for very busy trains and possible last-minute cancellations, with the effects expected to persist into the first half of Sunday.
Drivers will strike at Arriva Rail London, Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, London North Eastern Railway (LNER), West Midlands Trains and Southeastern.
The strike means no trains will run at all on Saturday on London Overground, CrossCountry, Southeastern, West Midlands Trains, London Northwestern Railway and Avanti West Coast.
Very limited services will run on Hull Trains, Great Western Railway, LNER and Greater Anglia’s network, including the Stansted Express airport service.
The rail industry has appealed to unions to continue talks. Steve Montgomery, the chair of the Rail Delivery Group, said that without passenger numbers having recovered to pre-pandemic levels, “securing a bright future means we have to adapt”.
Aslef’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, has said he would continue to talk but that firms were being told by the government to limit pay well below inflation.
He said he had been around the country speaking to drivers before the strike – the second coordinated national strike by Aslef this summer – and that his members were “very much up for it and understand we may be here for the long-haul”.
Saturday’s action is the first in a week of strikes by four separate transport unions that will severely curtail rail services. Trains will also be disrupted for four days starting on Thursday, as 40,000 members of the RMT union at Network Rail and 14 train operators stage two 24-hour strikes on 18 and 20 August. Several thousand TSSA members at Network Rail and seven train operators will also take action the same day.
The lack of signallers will allow only about a fifth of the usual timetable to run on strike days, while services are not expected to resume properly until late morning on the following days.
London transport will also be disrupted on the day between the national rail strikes, 19 August, when RMT members and some Unite members at Transport for London and London Overground will strike. Most tube and London Overground services in the capital will not run. Parts of the city will also be left without buses, as 1,600 drivers in west London in the Unite union will go on strike for two days from 19 August.