Nationwide rail strikes have entered their third year, with a series of “rolling” walk-outs planned to disrupt the journeys of millions of passengers across England in late January and early February.
Train drivers belonging to Aslef will stop work region-by-region over the course of a week between Tuesday 30 January and Monday 5 February. Thousands of trains are likely to be cancelled on each day.
The effect will be exacerbated by a nine-day ban on overtime running from 29 January to 6 February.
The strikes are designed to cause maximum disruption over an extended spell, but with train drivers each losing only one day’s pay. It mirrors the rolling industrial action at the start of December 2023. The schedule is:
- Monday 29 January: overtime ban begins.
- Tuesday 30 January: strikes on South Western Railway, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern and Thameslink.
- Wednesday 31 January: strikes on Northern and TransPennine Express.
- Thursday 1 February: no strike but overtime ban continues.
- Friday 2 February: strikes on Greater Anglia, C2C and LNER.
- Saturday 3 February: strikes on West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway.
- Sunday 4 February: no strike but overtime ban continues.
- Monday 5 February: strikes on Great Western, CrossCountry and Chiltern.
- Tuesday 6 February: no strike but overtime ban continues for a final day.
In terms of sheer number of passengers hit, Monday 29 January will be the most disruptive. It is aimed at commuters in southeast England, the majority of whom use the affected train operators.
Intercity travellers will be worst affected on Friday 2 and Saturday 3 February, when the main operators on the East Coast and West Coast main lines, as well as the Midland mainline, will be hit.
Sunday 4 February is also likely to be severely disrupted because of the ban on rest-day working.
Aslef says no train operator “employs enough drivers to provide the service they promise passengers and businesses they will deliver without asking drivers to work their days off”.
The effects may be reduced if the transport secretary, Mark Harper, uses new legislation to impose “minimum service levels” (MSLs).