Rail strike brings widespread disruption to UK | rail strikes

Rail travelers across the UK face another day of widespread disruption on Saturday due to a strike by train drivers at seven train companies.

The industrial action by members of the Aslef union represents the largest drivers’ strike in decades and will halt service for some train operators.

Services affected include West Midlands Trains traveling to sports venues around Birmingham, the host city of the Commonwealth Games.

Railway bosses have accused the union of targeting the opening weekend of both the games and the new English Football League season.

Intercity connections on LNER, which runs from London via Leeds to Scotland, will be greatly reduced. Great Western Services will be severely restricted. All Heathrow Express trains will be canceled and there will be no GWR trains west of Bristol to Wales.

There will be minimal Greater Anglia service and only one Hull Trains service in each direction. Trains will not operate on Southeastern, and most London Overground services will also be discontinued.

Other train operators such as Southern and Thameslink have warned services could become overcrowded and disrupted as passengers switch to alternative services.

The AA Motoring Organization, meanwhile, has issued a “yellow alert” warning that peak-time train strikes will contribute to severe road congestion, with more trips expected due to sporting events and holiday getaways.

Some rail disruptions are expected to last through Sunday.

The drivers’ action escalates a bitter wage dispute at the railways and follows shortly after the most recent nationwide strike by members of the RMT union. About 40,000 RMT members, including Network Rail signalers and onboard staff at 14 train operators, went on strike Wednesday.

Further strikes are planned by Aslef for August 13 and by the RMT for August 18 and 20, when simultaneous industrial action by the TSSA union could reduce the number of support workers available, meaning even fewer trains are likely to run.

Industry body Rail Delivery Group said it was “really disappointed” that the union was taking action to disrupt the plans of millions of passengers, particularly those hoping to attend the sporting events.

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RDG urged passengers to plan ahead and check the latest travel advice, saying anyone with pre-sale tickets can use them, change them or request a refund until Tuesday.

Aslef Secretary General Mick Whelan said: “We regret the disruption caused. We understand this happens when we take industrial action, but it is up to the companies to rectify this.”

Whelan said the strikes were “a last resort” but many of its members had not received a pay rise in three years despite working through the pandemic, and high inflation meant they were taking a real pay cut.

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