Almost no trains are running in most parts of England today as train drivers at 15 operating companies go on strike.
The 24-hour strike by members of the Aslef union will stop services entirely across major national rail lines, halting most commuter services in the south-east, Midlands and north of England.
In most areas, the impact on the railway will exceed that of this week’s industrial action by RMT members at Network Rail and train operators, who will start a second 48-hour strike on Friday.
No trains at all will run on Avanti West Coast; Chiltern; CrossCountry; East Midlands; Govia Thameslink Railway; Great Northern, Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express services; Northern; Southeastern; TransPennine Express; and West Midlands Trains.
A limited service will run on GWR, Greater Anglia and LNER, while South Western Railway services including the Island Line will be significantly disrupted.
Most services operated by Scotrail and Transport for Wales, where Aslef has agreed pay deals, will run on Thursday, but intercity trains to Scotland and Wales from London will be severely limited.
Aslef’s drivers have also settled disputes at Merseyrail and in London, and are not taking strike action at C2C.
On Wednesday, the drivers union dismissed as “tokenism” a pay offer reportedly being drawn up by government, ahead of its sixth day of coordinated strikes since the dispute started in early 2022.
Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, said that a possible £2,000 increase would not be accepted by drivers, telling media: “Inflation was running this year at 14%, we’ve had no pay rise for the previous two years, and they want industry reform for 3% – I don’t think that will fly with my members.”
Aslef’s leadership is due to meet the rail minister, Huw Merriman, on Monday.
Whelan said train drivers had been “treated with contempt”, adding: “We don’t want to be on the picket lines, we don’t want to be losing money, we don’t want to be hurting the travelling public, but we’ve been given no alternative by the actions of the government and the industry.”
The Department for Transport said: “Passengers have rightly had enough of rail strikes and want the disruption to end. Unions should step back from this strike action so we can start 2023 by ending this damaging dispute.”
About 20% of normal timetabled trains will run over the rest of the week, with thousands of members of the RMT striking for 48 hours again on Friday and Saturday, with disruption continuing into Sunday.
No further strikes are planned, although RMT and Aslef members recently voted to extend the mandate for industrial action for a further six months.