UK train drivers to stage fresh 24-hour strike on 26 November

Aslef union says drivers at 12 companies will take action over pay

Train drivers are to stage another 24-hour strike later this month, disrupting rail services across Britain and dampening hopes of an imminent end to the dispute.

Aslef said drivers at 12 companies would take action on Saturday 26 November, as the union presses for a pay offer.

The union’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, said drivers were being told to take a real-terms pay cut when inflation was in double figures.

Whelan said: “We regret that passengers will be inconvenienced for another day. We have come to the table, as we always will, in good faith but while the industry continues to make no offer we have no choice but to take strike action again.”

Aslef drivers at Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, LNER, London Overground, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Transpennine Express and West Midlands Trainswill strike on 26 November, the union’s fifth mass strike of the year.

Talks continue between Network Rail and the RMT and TSSA unions after three days of strikes scheduled for the last week were called off. The cancellation came too late to reinstate many services, and disruption continued until Tuesday on various lines.

The new rail minister, Huw Merriman, said he was ready to help in any way to end the dispute, and that the government’s tone had changed, after some previous transport secretaries and ministers refused to meet union leaders.

He told the Railway Industry Association conference in London that his view was that “the only way you get through industrial action is to talk, is to have positive relations, not to make a political issue of it”.

He said that while negotiations were being handled by the industry, “we stand by willing to aid in any particular way”.

He added: “While there are no current plans for me to go in the room, because that hasn’t been requested, I think we’ve changed the tone in terms of how we feel about trade unions. We understand they have their members to represent but we do badly need to see this actually come to an end. It’s cost the railway about half a billion [pounds] this year.”

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train firms, said: “We regret Aslef’s decision, which will cause real disruption to passengers and hit its members’ pay packets.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “It’s disappointing Aslef has yet again chosen self-defeating strike action when our railway is in urgent need of reform. This past week saw positive developments between unions and employers and planned strikes cancelled, so this is a frustrating backwards step.”


Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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