Since national rail strikes began in the summer of 2022, hundreds of millions of journeys have been cancelled. Billions of pounds have been lost to the UK economy, particularly hospitality businesses – and taxpayers are subsidising an increasingly decrepit and unreliable railway to the tune of £90 per second on top of the normal subsidy.
After the latest round of industrial action by train drivers belonging to the Aslef union, the only certainty is that more walk-outs will follow.
Over the past 19 months of strikes, there has been zero progress in the dispute between Aslef and the 14 rail firms controlled by the UK government and represented by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).
In a snap social media poll for The Independent, with 2,142 responses, one in three passengers say they will permanently travel less after the industrial action finally ends.
Meanwhile other strikes are happening intermittently, with London Overground workers preparing to walk out. The RMT has called two 48-hour strikes in February and March on the capital commuter network
These are the key questions and answers.
Where are we with industrial action on the railways?
Many rail passengers may feel national strikes have been going on forever. In fact, the first national rail walkouts since the 1980s began in the summer of 2022.
The larger rail union, the RMT, has ended its campaign of strikes for now. But Aslef, the smaller yet more powerful train drivers’ union, is as far from an agreement as ever with the 14 English rail firms whose operations are controlled by the government.
Since the dispute began, Aslef has called regular strikes and bans on rest-day working. The latest industrial action by train drivers, comprising an overtime ban and “rolling” regional walk-outs, hit for nine days from 29 January to 6 February.
The aim of these rolling strikes and the ban on rest-day working is to cause maximum disruption for minimum loss of pay.
How much has all the disruption cost?
According to the RDG, industrial action from June 2022 up until mid-January 2024 has cost the rail sector around £775m in lost revenue. That does not include the impact of the most recent strikes, which probably adds a further £50m to the losses.
UKHospitality estimates the lost business for places to eat, drink and stay amounts to almost £5bn. Kate Nicholls, the organisation’s chief…