Rail passengers face further travel chaos on Wednesday due to another strike in the long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, with many Conservative party conference attendees expected to leave Birmingham early to avoid disruptions.
Members of the drivers’ union Aslef and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), encompassing 12 train operators, will walk out, causing huge disruption to services across the UK.
The Aslef general secretary, Mick Whelan, has said the dispute would continue until the government intervened. He urged the 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.
Trevelyan, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, indicated that she saw “more clearly” the perspective of the railway workers after meeting with Whelan and the RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch.
She told Tory members at the party conference in Birmingham there was a “deal to be done” between unions and train operators, but stressed any agreement would require compromise.
Trevelyan said the “very last thing that the country needs right now is more damaging industrial disputes”.
Michael Fabricant, the Tory MP for Lichfield, said on Twitter that the strike action could result in a poor turnout for Liz Truss’s speech on Wednesday, saying: “Everyone I know from outside the West Midlands is leaving conference tomorrow [Tuesday] night because of the train strike on Wednesday. So if the PM’s speech is not packed out on Wednesday morning, you know why.”
The train drivers’ strike will affect 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.
Members of the TSSA will strike at CrossCountry and take other forms of industrial action at several other operators.
The TSSA is also planning industrial action on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, while members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at more than a dozen train companies and Network Rail will strike on Saturday.
Passengers are advised to check before they travel on Wednesday and allow extra time for their journey.
Daniel Mann, the director of industry operations at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “These strikes disrupt the travel plans of millions of passengers and undermine businesses who continue to struggle with rising costs, and this continued action will only further damage the railway’s recovery.
“Passengers with advance, off-peak or anytime tickets affected by the strikes on 5 October can use their ticket on the day before the booked date, or up to and including 7 October.
“Passengers can also change their tickets to travel on an alternate date or get a refund if their train is cancelled or rescheduled.”
The TSSA general secretary, Manuel Cortes, noted: “We saw only last weekend that our strike action was rock solid across the country. Our brilliant members remain determined to see their demands met in the shape of a just settlement.
“We do not strike lightly but are prepared to dig in as we seek a fair deal on pay, job security and conditions in the face of cuts, economic collapse and a cost of living crisis at the hands of this chaotic Tory government.
“With more strikes and wider industrial action in the offing this week, it’s time for ministers to get wise and act now to deliver a fair deal which will halt a winter of rail misery across the network.”