Rail passengers face rolling strikes but action on London Underground called off

<span>Aslef’s general secretary, Mick Whelan (centre), said the latest offer put to members was ‘ridiculous’.</span><span>Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA</span>

Aslef’s general secretary, Mick Whelan (centre), said the latest offer put to members was ‘ridiculous’.Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

Rail passengers are bracing for travel disruption as train drivers bring some routes on the national network to a halt in a wave of strikes, but two days of similar action on the London Underground have been called off.

Members of Aslef start the first of three 24-hour strikeson Friday, affecting 16 rail operating companies as part of its 20-month dispute over pay.

However, on Thursday the union said it had called off two daylong tube strikes planned for Monday 8 April and Saturday 4 May after receiving a proposal during negotiations that resolved the key issues in the dispute.

On Friday, drivers working for Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains, London Northwestern Railway and CrossCountry will strike, with all five running no services on the day.

Related: Train strikes in England could continue for six months after union vote

On Saturday, strikes will take place on Chiltern, GWR, LNER, Northern and TransPennine, while on Monday services on Greater Anglia, GTR’s Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern/Gatwick Express, Southeastern, South Western Railway and SWR Island Line will be cancelled.

Passengers have been warned by operators to expect significant disruption, with the vast majority of services cancelled on the strike days. Services on the days before and after the industrial action could also be affected.

Drivers in Scotland and Wales are not on strike but cross-border rail services will be disrupted.

The strikes coincide with an overtime ban by the union for all operators, which runs from 4 to 6 April, and then 8 to 9 April. It is expected that it will make short-notice cancellations and disruption more likely when travelling on these days.

Last month, 96% of Aslef members voted to take action, which would be the union’s 14th one-day strike since the dispute started in 2022.

Speaking after the vote last month, Aslef’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, said: “Our members voted overwhelmingly – yet again – for strike action.

“Those votes show – yet again – a clear rejection by train drivers of the ridiculous offer put to us in April last year by [the train operators’ body] the Rail Delivery Group, which knew that offer would be rejected because a land grab for all the terms and conditions we have negotiated over the years would never be accepted by our members.”

Aslef has said it will continue to strike for a better pay deal, after the union rejected an 8% offer last spring.

Announcing the cancellation of the London Underground strikes, an Aslef official said: “Management have confirmed that they have disbanded their ‘Trains Modernisation’ team and will not be implementing their plans to change drivers’ working arrangements without agreement. They have also agreed to reinstate annual refresher training stopped during the pandemic.”

The Rail Delivery Group has said: “We want to resolve this dispute, but the Aslef leadership need to recognise that hard-pressed taxpayers are continuing to contribute an extra £54m a week just to keep services running post-Covid.” The industry body also said it remained “open to talks to find a solution to this dispute”.

Meanwhile, commuters in London have been cautioned that there will be little or no service on the London Underground on Monday as Aslef tube drivers begin a 24-hour strike at 7pm on Sunday night. Transport for London (TfL) has also warned that services on the morning of Tuesday 9 April may start later than normal.

The strike on Monday will be the first of two days of planned action, with tube drivers also planning to strike on 4 May.

Finn Brennan, Aslef’s full-time organiser on London Underground, said: “Aslef tube train drivers will strike in April and May in a long-running dispute over London Underground’s failure to give assurances that changes to our members’ terms and conditions will not be imposed without agreement and that all existing agreements will be honoured.”

He said under the proposals staff would have to work longer shifts, spending up to 25% more time in the cab, and current working agreements would be removed in the name of “flexibility and efficiency”.

A TfL spokesperson said: “We have been in long-term discussions with our trade union colleagues on how to modernise procedures and processes on London Underground. We have no plans to impose these changes and have committed to no one losing their job as part of these changes … We urge Aslef to continue discussions with us so that disruption for Londoners can be averted.”

Services on Crossrail, the London Overground and Docklands Light Railway will not be affected by the industrial action.

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