It’s not even a train strike day! Commuter fury as rail firms wreak havoc during the morning rush hour with operators across Britain suffering delays and cancellations after walkouts

It’s not even a train strike day! Commuter fury as rail firms wreak havoc during the morning rush hour with operators across Britain suffering delays and cancellations after walkouts

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Britain’s beleaguered rail passengers continued to face delays and cancellations across the network today as operators provided a multitude of excuses such as train faults, points failures and crew shortages – the morning after the latest strike.

Overrunning engineering works caused disruption for commuters using Chiltern Railways services between London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street.

The same issue also affected West Midlands Railway trains between Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham Snow Hill, Leamington Spa and Worcester Foregate Street.

Frustrated Chiltern passengers said that this morning’s trains had been scheduled to run when they checked last night – but were cancelled at the last minute today. 

Meanwhile a shortage of train crew hit Thameslink services between Sutton and St Albans, and Southern trains between Clapham Junction and Watford Junction.

Great Western Railway trains were delayed by a points failure between Bristol Temple Meads and Severn Beach. And c2c reported that a train fault at Limehouse meant the line was blocked, with other London-bound trains not able to get past West Ham.

Elsewhere commuters using Northern and LNER services reported being stuck due to a fire on a train at Leeds, with one saying: ‘Train stopped outside Leeds station for 10 minutes. My God, just open the doors and I’ll walk the rest of the way, damn it.’ 

And passengers using the Elizabeth line in London – which was not affected by yesterday’s strike – were delayed this morning due to a train fault at Whitechapel. 

A commuter looks at a departures board at Waterloo Station in London yesterday

A commuter looks at a departures board at Waterloo Station in London yesterday

Some services started later than normal today in a knock-on effect of yesterday’s strike involving members of the drivers’ union Aslef at 16 train operators in England.

Rail operators affecting by issues this morning 

Chiltern Railways

  • London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street – overrunning engineering works

West Midlands Railway

  • Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham Snow Hill and Leamington Spa to Worcester Foregate Street – overrunning engineering works

Thameslink

  • Sutton to St Albans – shortage of train crew

Southern

  • Clapham Junction to Watford Junction – shortage of train crew

Great Western Railway

  • Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach – points failure

c2c

Northern / LNER / TransPennine 

Elizabeth line

  • Whitechapel – train fault

London Underground

  • Hammersmith & City line – train cancellations

An amended timetable is in place on some lines because rolling stock began the day in the wrong depots.

There are also problems linked to the Aslef overtime ban which is running throughout this week from Monday until tomorrow.

Meanwhile Transport for London (TfL) reported delays on the Hammersmith & City line this morning due to train cancellations, although this is unrelated to the Aslef strike.

Among the stations affected by the disruption on Chiltern this morning was Saunderton in Buckinghamshire.

The Friends of Saunderton Station account on X posted: ‘The first Chiltern Railway train from Saunderton to London now seems to be at 8.30am today.

‘A strange timetable is running after yesterday’s strike and the train due at 6.41am has been cancelled due to over-running engineering work.’

Among the frustrated Thameslink passengers today was Amy Lou Whyte, who said on X: ‘Every day I am amazed at how s**t Thameslink are. 

‘How they condone the ticket prices when there isn’t a single day that goes by without delays or cancellations is beyond me.’

Meanwhile passenger Jo Dowling tweeted Southern, saying: ‘Why are trains from Haywards Heath to Brighton only starting at 8.22am? Is the information on the app correct or are you striking for two days?’

Southern replied, saying: ‘Hi there, services are starting up slightly later today following yesterday’s strike action.’

But Ms Dowling responded, saying: ‘Slightly late!!!!!!!! I wouldn’t call an hour and a half slight – no wonder your company is such a shambles!’

Another man tweeted Southern to say: ‘If the strike finished yesterday why is there no trains today?’

There was also fury among Great Western Railway passengers, with one saying: ‘I don’t think it’s acceptable to cancel the 6.55am train from Exmouth without any announcement whatsoever. 

‘People here have work and other commitments to get to, and connecting trains. Why wasn’t this information anywhere? Had to call at the help point to find out.’

Which rail operators are affected by Aslef’s overtime ban? 

Members of the train drivers’ union Aslef are carrying out an overtime ban this week from Monday until tomorrow, which is affecting these operators:

  • Avanti West Coast
  • c2c
  • Chiltern Railways
  • CrossCountry
  • East Midlands Railway
  • Gatwick Express
  • Great Northern
  • Great Western Railway
  • Greater Anglia
  • Heathrow Express
  • Island Line
  • LNER
  • London Northwestern Railway
  • Northern
  • South Western Railway
  • Southeastern
  • Southern
  • Stansted Express
  • Thameslink
  • TransPennine Express
  • West Midlands Railway

Another said: What a shambles @GWRHelp are. £100 for a ticket and first train cancelled, second delayed, get to Reading and train we are on cancelled and no other options and no communication.’

And a third posted: ‘Day one after strikes and the 6.53am SWI-PAD not just delayed, cancelled… because of change to timetable… with five mins notice. Then the 6.58am train not busy mental seriously sort it out GWR!

In the Leeds area, one passenger tweeted: ‘There’s been a fire on a train at Leeds train station, so don’t bother using the trains this morning. Currently stopped on the line near Apperley Bridge.’

Another said: ‘There’s been a fire on a TransPennine train at the station which apparently has set off a system that’s turns off all the power at the station (so the conductor says). Currently waiting just outside Leeds to get a platform. Why can’t they just flick the big breaker button?’

It comes as the long-running train drivers’ dispute looks set to continue into the new year as passengers suffered fresh travel misery yesterday because of the latest strike.

Aslef walked out yesterday, coinciding with the final day of the annual conference of the Conservative Party in Manchester.

It was the 14th strike since the pay and conditions dispute flared more than a year ago, leading to picket lines being mounted outside railway stations across England.

Many parts of the country had no services all day, including Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Northern, Southeastern and TransPennine Express.

Aslef’s general secretary Mick Whelan continued to blame the Government for the stand-off.

Speaking at a picket line outside London’s Euston station yesterday, he said: ‘We don’t have a problem in Scotland. We don’t have a problem in Wales.

‘We don’t have a problem in freight or Eurostar or with all the other companies. It is a Westminster political problem caused by Westminster.’

Mr Whelan said support for the latest strike was ‘solid’ and maintained that many Aslef members wanted to go ‘harder and faster’ because so little progress has been made for months.

No more strikes have been announced, but more industrial action could be held in the busy festive period, or even into the new year, if the deadlock is not broken soon.

Mr Whelan joined striking workers who had brought a life-sized cut-out of the Where’s Wally? cartoon character with Transport Secretary Mark Harper’s face imposed on it.

He said: ‘What we are seeing from the Tory conference is the managed decline of our railways.

‘We are striking today because we still haven’t seen the transport minister or the companies for the best part of six months.

‘The mood of the train drivers in the UK is that we will keep striking until we get a resolution that suits them.’

Drivers are also banning overtime this week which will also cause disruption.

The union said train companies have always failed to employ enough drivers to provide a proper service.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group said: ‘There is a deal on the table for Aslef that would take average driver salaries to £65,000 for a four-day week – that’s more than double the average UK salary and many drivers top up their income further by working overtime.

‘We are ready and willing to talk to Aslef’s leaders so we can end this damaging dispute – but any talks about pay also need to address working practices that date back decades.

‘The industry depends on a monthly injection of up to £175 million from the taxpayer because revenues are still 30 per cent below pre-pandemic levels – while simultaneously facing unprecedented changes in customer travel patterns.

‘This isn’t just costing taxpayers, it’s costing businesses eye-watering sums, and all because Aslef’s leadership refuse to discuss much-needed changes to ways of working.

‘It is obvious that the sector can only fund a pay rise by changing how it delivers services so it can respond to that transformation in how the public use the railway.

‘That means putting managers – rather than unions – in charge of planning shifts. It means allowing managers to respond to unexpected staff absences so they can reduce the last-minute cancellations that so frustrate our customers.

‘It means giving our customers more reliable train services when they actually want to use them – particularly on Sundays. That is how any industry survives and thrives.’

A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘The Government spent £31 billion of taxpayers’ money – £1,000 per household – to protect rail workers’ jobs during the pandemic.

‘There is a fair and reasonable offer on the table that would take train drivers’ salaries from £60,000 to £65,000 for a 35-hour, four-day week.

‘Aslef’s leaders won’t put this offer to their members and instead continue to strike, damaging their own industry in the process.’

A passengers walks through the empty concourse at London Euston station yesterday morning

A passengers walks through the empty concourse at London Euston station yesterday morning

Trains at a very quiet London King's Cross station yesterday as the Aslef rail strike began

Trains at a very quiet London King’s Cross station yesterday as the Aslef rail strike began

Rail passengers arrive at a deserted London Victoria station yesterday during the Aslef strike

Rail passengers arrive at a deserted London Victoria station yesterday during the Aslef strike 

Mick Whelan (second right), Aslef's general secretary, joined striking workers who had brought a life-sized cut-out of the Where's Wally? cartoon character with Transport Secretary Mark Harper's face imposed on it to a picket line outside London Euston station yesterday

Mick Whelan (second right), Aslef’s general secretary, joined striking workers who had brought a life-sized cut-out of the Where’s Wally? cartoon character with Transport Secretary Mark Harper’s face imposed on it to a picket line outside London Euston station yesterday 

It comes after planned strikes on the London Underground were called off on Tuesday following ‘significant progress’ in talks over jobs and conditions.

Around 3,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) were due to walk out yesterday and tomorrow.

The RMT said that following talks at the conciliation service Acas it managed to save jobs, prevent detrimental changes to rosters and secure protection of earnings around grading changes.

The union said: ‘The significant progress means that key elements have been settled although there remains wider negotiations to be had in the job, pensions and working agreements dispute.’

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘I congratulate all our members who were prepared to take strike action and our negotiations team for securing this victory in our Tube dispute.

‘Without the unity and industrial power of our members, there is no way we would have been able to make the progress we have.

‘We still remain in dispute over outstanding issues around pensions and working agreements and will continue to pursue a negotiated settlement.’

Nick Dent, London Underground’s director of customer operations, said: ‘We are pleased that the RMT has withdrawn its planned industrial action this week and that the dispute on our change proposals in stations is now resolved.

‘This is good news for London and we will continue to work closely with our trade unions as we evolve London Underground to ensure we can continue to support the capital in the most effective way.’

Acas chief conciliator Marina Glasgow said: ‘After four days of Acas talks, we are pleased that significant progress has been made through Acas to help resolve this area of dispute.’

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