Employment

Tube and train strikes: Disruption for rail passengers as London Underground strike called off

Much of the UK’s rail network will grind to a standstill during April and May, as train drivers strike for better pay and conditions.

ASLEF train drivers will strike in April and May. Credit: canva

Much of the UK’s rail network will grind to a standstill during April as train drivers strike for better pay and conditions – but two days of tube strikes have been called off.

Planned London Underground strikes – slated for Monday 8 April and Saturday 4 May – have been cancelled at the last minute.

A spokesperson for ASLEF union said that “key issues” had been resolved “without the need for strikes”.

Previously, the union – which represents 96% of Britain’s train drivers – had accused employers of forcing Tube drivers to work “harder and longer for less.”

The tube news will be welcomed by miserable commuters. However, travellers should still expect “severe disruption” across National Rail services in coming days, with strikes scheduled at 16 major rail companies.

Why have the Tube strikes in April and May 2024 been called off?

ASLEF Tube drivers had planned to conduct two days of strikes, walking out on Monday 8 April and Saturday 4 May. Much of the London network was set to grind to a halt, with Transport for London (TfL) warning passengers to expect “severe disruption.”

“Some lines will have little or no service,” the operator said in a statement.

But today, ASLEF announced that strikes had been called off amidst “successful” talks.

ASLEF is seeking better pay for its tube driver members. It says that existing pay offers have been accompanied by unacceptable sacrifices to working conditions, such as drivers being forced to spend longer working.

Today, a spokesperson confirmed that these issues had been resolved. 

Nick Dent, director of customer operations for London Underground, said that the operator was “pleased” with the outcome, adding “We will continue to work constructively with the trade unions to avoid disruption and address concerns.”

“Management has confirmed that they have disbanded their ‘Trains Modernisation’ team and will not be implementing their plans to changes drivers’ working arrangements without agreement,” they said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that the outcome illustrated the power of negotiation.

“This demonstrates – once again – what can be achieved by talking and engaging with transport staff and trade unions rather than working against them,” he posted on X.

What dates are the mainline train strikes in April and May?

Commuters can still expect some travel chaos, with drivers across the country set to strike in coming days.

On Friday 5 April, ASLEF members will walk out at Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains and CrossCountry.

On Saturday 6 April, members will walk out at Chiltern, GWR, LNER, Northern, and TransPennine Trains

On Monday 8 April, members will strike at c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway main line and depot drivers, and SWR Island Line.

Members will also refuse to work their rest days from Thursday 4 to Saturday 6 April and from Monday 8 to Tuesday 9 April.

ASLEF has also called an additional strike and overtime ban at the UK’s flagship train operator, LNER, for Saturday 20 April. Drivers will also refuse overtime on Friday 19 and Sunday 21 April.

The company is in a long-running dispute with LNER specifically over “pressure” it has exercised on drivers who plan to strike. 

Nigel Roebuck, full-time organiser in the northeast of England, blamed the government, claiming it has leaned on the company to “persuade every driver manager and driver instructor to work on strike days; effectively to provide a minimum service level without invoking the legislation.”

Will these operators run any service on strike days?

Some of these operators will run a “skeleton service” on these days, ASLEF assistant general secretary Simon Weller told the Calling All Stations Podcast – but others won’t be able to run any trains at all.

“LNER, for example, will get all their managers to drive trains on strike day, so they can provide a skeleton service,” he said.

“But the others, like the southern region companies and the northwest and northern companies, there’ll be a complete shutdown.”

You can find more information on mainline strikes at the website of your train operator.

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