The effect is exacerbated by a nine-day ban on overtime running from 29 January to 6 February.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, says some members have not had a pay rise for five years – and ministers have refused to engage with the union for a year.
He told The Independent: “Any industrial action is incredibly damaging, but after 18 months out on strike, and after a year with no one in the government or the [train operating] companies talking to us, we are forced to raise the profile of our issues.”
Rail minister Huw Merriman told The Independent: “Strikes just hold the railway back. We believe a fair and reasonable offer is there on the table for Aslef if they put it to their members.
“These are train drivers that paid an average £60,000 for a 35-hour, four-day week, That pay deal would take them up to £65,000.
“We hope that they will take the opportunity to take it. Then we can all talk about the positives of rail.”
Separately, the 14 train operators have reached a tentative agreement with the RMT union that has put an end to walk-outs while talks continue on a local level. But the RMT has called two 48-hour strikes in February and March on the London Overground.
These are the key questions and answers.
Which rail firms are affected?
Aslef is in dispute with the train operators that are contracted by the government to provide rail services. They are:
- Avanti West Coast
- East Midlands Railway
- Great Western Railway (GWR)
- TransPennine Express
Southeast England commuter operators:
- Greater Anglia
- GTR (Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern, Thameslink)
- South Western Railway (including the Island Line on the Isle of Wight)
Operators focusing on the Midlands and north of England:
- Chiltern Railways
- Northern Trains
- West Midlands Railway
ScotRail, Transport for Wales, Transport for London (including the Elizabeth Line), Merseyrail and…