Passengers across Britain face another day of canceled or disrupted train services on Saturday as drivers from 11 rail companies go on strike.
Rail operators have urged people to only travel if necessary and to check before you go, with no trains or only a handful of services running on affected routes.
Most direct intercity trains on the mainlines from London to Scotland and Wales have been canceled with no service running at all on operators including Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, CrossCountry, Northern and Southeastern.
The latest strike by Aslef members comes as the union continues to vote for members for another six months of potential strike action in a long-running wage dispute.
Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, said most drivers, who are paid an average of £59,000 a year, had not seen a rise since the start of the Covid pandemic.
He told the Guardian: “We are still going for more than three years without a pay rise. And the employers say we can’t give you one without the government, and the government says you have to talk to the employer.
Drivers called off a planned strike at a company, Arriva London, which operates London Overground, ahead of Saturday. Whelan said: “We solved it there and in Scotland and Wales – [other cases seem] be guided by Westminster.
Whelan is due to meet new Transport Secretary Mark Harper next Wednesday, who raised hopes of a breakthrough after meeting RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch on Thursday and promising to “work to facilitate” a deal.
The Aslef leader said: ‘If he can break the deadlock and find a way forward, that’s fine – but only the government right now can order the companies to break the contract they made .”
The RMT has announced eight days of strikes in December and January, and Aslef may announce more after a meeting on December 7. But Whelan said: “We’re not deliberately aiming for Christmas – we recognize all the issues people are facing.”
Daniel Mann, director of industrial operations at Rail Delivery Group, said: “The Aslef strike brings more uncertainty to passengers and businesses by disrupting their weekend plans.
“Although we are doing everything we can to minimize disruption. If you plan to travel on the affected routes, please plan ahead and check the latest travel advice on national railway enquiries.
Meanwhile, nearly 3,000 bus drivers in London will continue their strikes next month, union Unite has confirmed. Members employed by Metroline and 950 at Abellio will take seven days of action from Dec. 1-17 in compensation disputes.
Train operators and routes affected
Avanti West Coastt: no service
Chiltern Railways: no service.
Cross country: no service.
East Midlands Railway: no service.
West Midlands Railway/London Northwestern Railway: no service.
Heathrow Express: no service.
North: no service.
South East: no service.
Great Western Railway: extremely limited service, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., only between London and Bristol; Reading and Oxford; and Reading and Basingstoke.
Greater England: extremely limited service, only between London Liverpool Street and Colchester; and Norwich and Southend. The Stansted Express will run one train per hour between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.
London North East Railway: Extremely limited service. Only one train each way between London and Leeds, and four each way between London and Edinburgh.
Lumo: Trains will only run between Edinburgh and Newcastle.
Trans Pennine Express: Extremely limited service. Four trains each way between York and Manchester; three each way between Manchester and Liverpool; two trains each way between Sheffield and Cleethorpes.