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Rugby fans travelling to watch England and Wales today have been warned of significant disruption amid another day of rail strikes as train drivers at 11 companies walk out in a long-running pay row.
Train operators warned of ‘significantly reduced’ services across the country and urged passengers to travel only if necessary as members of Aslef walk out today.
It comes after months of disruption to the UK’s travel network, which shows no sign of easing as almost 3,000 London bus drivers have vowed to press ahead with industrial action next month.
And today the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) announced that more than 1,000 train cleaners have voted to strike over pay, threatening the biggest ever walkout in the industry.
The union is demanding a wage rate of £15-an-hour, sick pay, decent holidays and good pensions from contractors.
The union’s executive will decide next week what days strike action will take place.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘This is a historic result and I congratulate cleaner members across the transport network.
‘It is scandalous that multimillion-pound companies are making hand-over-fist profits while not paying cleaners properly.
‘RMT will fight every step of the way to end the super-exploitation of contracted-out cleaners and will not rest until these greedy companies pay up.’
Most intercity trains on mainlines from London to Scotland and Wales have been cancelled today and some operators – Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Railway, Heathrow Express, Northern and Southeastern – have no services running all day.
Train drivers at 11 companies have walked out in a long-running dispute over pay. Pictured: rail workers on the picket line at Grand Central Station in Birmingham
Only Caledonian Sleeper and London Overground services are running from London Euston (pictured) today due to Aslef industrial action
Train operators warned of ‘significantly reduced’ services across the country and urged passengers to travel only if necessary as members of Aslef walk out today. Pictured: a passenger at King’s Cross station
There are also strikes on Abellio bus services today, mostly affecting routes in west and south London, and the Circle line has been suspended due to staff shortages caused by the national rail strike.
Trains that are running will start later on Saturday morning and finish much earlier than usual, with services typically running between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
Rugby fans travelling to England v South Africa at Twickenham and to Cardiff for the Wales v Australia international are advised to check with their train operator for travel updates as many trains across the network will be affected.
One Australian rugby fan said he is concerned about whether he will make the match after flying in from Perth.
Mick Colliss said: ‘I traveled from Perth to watch the @wallabies play Wales in Cardiff. A flight cancellation meant I had to fly into Southampton this morning and catch a train. That’s fine. But the trains in Wales are on strike. It’s not looking good.’
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said progress in talks aimed at resolving the dispute had been ‘incredibly slow’. Pictured: Aslef members on the picket line outside Reading Station today
Passengers sleep at Manchester Piccadilly railway station amid another day of rail strikes across the country
Some operators – Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Railway, Heathrow Express, Northern and Southeastern – have no services running all day. Pictured: empty platforms at Manchester Piccadilly this morning
Others have also taken to social media to express their annoyance at the disruption caused by the strikes.
Tom Sander said: ‘Train strikes mean I’m missing the passing out @RMASandhurst this morning. Good luck to all those marching on, especially colleagues in @ArmyChaplaincy.’
Nick Bracewell added: ‘Hundreds of pounds a ticket and I can’t get to Manchester for a funeral… What a f***ing joke.’
Meanwhile Craig Heeley from South Gloucestershire told MailOnline he would be filling the diesel tank of his 4×4, driving into central London and parking at the Ritz as it would be cheaper than paying for two first-class train tickets- the only ones available due to the limited service.
Mr Heeley said: ‘I need to travel into Central London today from our local mainline station at Chippenham and tried to buy a ticket and was told only single first class tickets are available at £142 (three times the price of standard) and that trains today are “pre-booked ticket only” meaning you can’t just turn up at a station and buy a ticket as normal.
‘That means for two of us a round trip will cost £568. That’s more than a BA flight to Malaga. Surely this is incorrect?’
Aslef union members strike outside Euston station this morning as their union calls for better pay
Train drivers at 11 companies have walked out today in a long-running pay row. Pictured: Passengers sleeping at Manchester Piccadilly station
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said progress in talks aimed at resolving the dispute had been ‘incredibly slow’.
He said that most drivers, who are paid on average £59,000-a-year, have not seen an increase since before the pandemic.
Mr Whelan said: ‘We don’t want to be in this position, but no-one is listening to us. Our members did not receive a pay rise during the pandemic and we are being told that train companies can’t afford more than a 2 per cent rise.
National rail strikes: Which operators are affected?
Avanti West Coast: No service
Chiltern Railways: No service
CrossCountry: No service
East Midlands Railway: No service
West Midlands Railway/ London Northwestern Railway: No service
Heathrow Express: No service
Northern: No service
Southeastern: No service
Great Western Railway: Extremely limited service running between 7.30am and 9.30pm. Trains will only run between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads (these trains will not stop at Bath Spa); Reading and Oxford; and Reading and Basingstoke.
Greater Anglia: Extremely limited service. One train per hour on routes between London Liverpool Street and Colchester, Norwich and Southend Victoria and on the Stansted Express service. No trains on any other routes including the Cambridge to London Liverpool Street mainline, or rail replacement buses for them.
London North Eastern Railway: Extremely limited service. Just one train each way between London and Leeds and four each way between London and Edinburgh.
TransPennine Express: Extremely limited service. Four trains each way between York and Manchester Piccadilly, three between Manchester, Victoria and Liverpool Lime Street and two between Sheffield and Cleethorpes.
‘Only the Government can take the shackles off the employers. We are in this for the long haul – and our members want us to go harder and faster.’
He is due to meet Transport Secretary Mark Harper next week to discuss the dispute.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: ‘It’s very disappointing Aslef is choosing this damaging strike action, which will ruin millions of people’s weekend plans such as long-awaited pre-Christmas shopping trips or meeting up with friends to watch the World Cup.
‘This dispute has gone on far too long and is not only causing disarray in people’s lives, but is harming the economy too.
‘We urge union leaders to reconsider this action and instead work with employers, not against them, to agree a new way forward. The future of our railway depends on it.’
Daniel Mann, director of industry operations at the Rail Delivery Group, said: ‘The strike by Aslef brings more uncertainty for passengers and businesses by disrupting their weekend plans.
‘While we will do all that we can to minimise disruption, if you are going to travel on the routes affected, please plan ahead and check the latest travel advice on national rail inquiries.
‘Passengers with advance, off-peak or anytime tickets affected by the strike can use their ticket either on the day before the date on the ticket, or up to and including Tuesday 29 November. Passengers can also change their tickets to travel on an alternate date or get a refund if their train is cancelled or rescheduled.’
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union has called a series of strikes in the coming weeks at Network Rail and 14 train operators in its dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, which will cripple services.
The union announced this week that over 40,000 members will take strike action on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 and on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.
And strike action by 3,000 bus drivers next month also threatens to disrupt travel in the busy run-up to Christmas.
Unite said 2,000 of its members employed by Metroline and 950 at Abellio will take seven days of action between December 1 and 17 in disputes over pay.
Unite said some Metroline drivers were paid just over £13-an-hour and were struggling to keep their heads above water during the cost-of-living crisis.
The union said the company’s latest offer of a 10 per cent pay increase and 9 per cent on back pay was rejected by the workforce, as it amounted to a real terms pay cut because of the rate of inflation.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said that most drivers, who are paid on average £59,000-a-year, have not seen an increase since before the pandemic. Pictured: an Aslef member on the picket line at St Pancras station
The Metroline workers, who are based across north and west London, will be striking on December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 15 and 16.
The first three days of the industrial action will be co-ordinated with Abellio bus drivers in south and west London, who have a separate industrial dispute over pay. Abellio workers will also walk out on December 9, 10, 16 and 17.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Metroline is an exceptionally wealthy company and it is unforgivable that it is paying among the lowest driver pay rates in London.
‘Rates of pay at Metroline are so low that workers simply can’t cope as the cost of living crisis continues to worsen. This is a company that can afford to pay but has chosen not to do so.
‘Our bus driver members in London are receiving Unite’s complete support.’
Passengers sit on the floor at King’s Cross railway station in central London amid travel disruption which is due to continue until tomorrow morning
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham (pictured) said: ‘Metroline is an exceptionally wealthy company and it is unforgivable that it is paying among the lowest driver pay rates in London’
Unite regional officer Laura Johnson said: ‘Strike action will undoubtedly cause severe disruption across London but this dispute is entirely of Metroline’s own making.’
Ms Graham added: ‘Abellio is a vastly wealthy multi-national company that could and should be paying its workers a fair pay increase. With workers struggling to cope with rampant inflation, Abellio’s failure to even enter into meaningful pay talks is cold-hearted and callous.’
A Metroline spokesperson said: ‘Despite Unite the Union’s claims, Metroline drivers are amongst the highest paid in London and Unite are categorically wrong to claim otherwise.
‘Under recommendation from Unite, drivers at three of our garages have already voted to accept a substantial 10 per cent pay increase with additional benefits.
‘We are therefore deeply disappointed that Unite are now denying the very same offer to all of our colleagues and in the last few days have changed their pay demand from 10.5 per cent to 13 per cent.
‘We continue to be committed to negotiations and are pleased that Unite have accepted our offer to meet with Acas.’