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More train strikes announced for March on LNER and Northern services as Aslef drivers walk out

Simon Calder’s Travel

More rail strikes are on the way. Train drivers at two of the UK’s leading rail firms will walk out on Friday 1 March in rows that are separate to the long-running national dispute over pay and conditions.

The drivers are members of Aslef working for LNER, the main operator on the East Coast main line, and Northern – serving the north of England.

Both rail firms are state-run having been brought back into public control after the previous franchise holders stood aside.

Hundreds of trains will be cancelled as a result of the strikes. In addition, an overtime ban will apply on the previous and following days, Thursday 29 February and Saturday 2 March.

The industrial action has been called for what Aslef described as LNER’s and Northern’s “persistent failure to comply with existing agreements”.

The Independent understands that the union is unhappy with what it sees as LNER’s routine use of managers to drive trains on some routes, and “toxic” local industrial relations at Northern.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: “We are fed up to the back teeth with the bad faith shown, day after day, week after week, and month after month by these two companies.

“We always stick to agreements which we make. These companies think they can break agreements – which they freely enter into – whenever it suits them. And they’re wrong.

“This is a shot across their bows and a sign of things to come.

“They need to stop what they are doing, start to behave properly and honourably, because their drivers – our members – are no longer prepared to be treated like this.”

A spokesperson for LNER said: “Our priority focus remains on minimising disruption to customers during Aslef strikes, which sadly will continue to cause disruption and delays.

“We encourage Aslef to continue to work with us to find a way to end this long-running dispute which only damages the rail industry.”

Tricia Williams, chief operating officer at Northern, said: “We’re surprised and disappointed that strike action has been called over a local disagreement that we have all been working positively to resolve.

“We encourage Aslef to work with us to find a solution and avoid further disruption for customers.“

Previous experience of train drivers’ strikes suggests that Northern will cancel all trains on 1 March, while LNER will run a skeleton…

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