Train cleaners vote for industrial action as strikes and weather cause weekend travel chaos

ITV News's Callum Watkinson reports on a day of strike action on the railways

A fresh strike by train drivers has caused more travel chaos for passengers on Saturday amid warnings of further walkouts in a long-running dispute over pay.

Aslef union members, who cover 11 train operators, have walked out, causing huge disruption, with the industry warning of “significantly reduced” services across the country.

Passengers were urged to plan ahead and check before they travel throughout the whole weekend.

Trains that are running started later on Saturday morning and will finish much earlier than usual, with services typically running between 7.30am and 6.30pm on the day of the strike.

Kings Cross station, seen in October, was left empty after strike action. Credit: PA

Rugby fans travelling to England v South Africa at Twickenham and to Cardiff for the Wales v Australia international were advised to check with their train operator for travel updates as many trains across the network will be affected.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said progress in talks aimed at resolving the dispute had been “incredibly slow”.

“We don’t want to be in this position, but no-one is listening to us," he said. "Our members did not receive a pay rise during the pandemic and we are being told that train companies can’t afford more than a 2% rise.

“Only the government can take the shackles off the employers. We are in this for the long haul – and our members want us to go harder and faster.”

"Everyone should have a pay rise"

Speaking to ITV News on Saturday, Mr Whelan suggested the public were supportive of strike action.

"We find ourselves, for the first time ever, I think, with a rail dispute where we've got public approval ratings running 49 to 64%" he said.

"Everybody has a family currently touched by the high cost of living, high energy prices...we should have and everyone should have a pay rise."

Mr Whelan is due to meet Transport Secretary Mark Harper next week to discuss the dispute.

Mick Whelan Credit: Nick Ansell/PA

Daniel Mann, director of industry operations at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “The strike by Aslef brings more uncertainty for passengers and businesses by disrupting their weekend plans.

“While we will do all that we can to minimise disruption, if you are going to travel on the routes affected, please plan ahead and check the latest travel advice on national rail inquiries.

“Passengers with advance, off-peak or anytime tickets affected by the strike can use their ticket either on the day before the date on the ticket, or up to and including Tuesday 29 November. Passengers can also change their tickets to travel on an alternate date or get a refund if their train is cancelled or rescheduled.”

Companies where no services are expected to run include Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Chiltern and East Midlands, while others including Great Western and Greater Anglia say services will be extremely limited.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union has called a series of strikes in the coming weeks at Network Rail and 14 train operators in its dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, which will cripple services.

Yellow weather warning to bring rain and strong wind

A yellow warning for weather has also been issued for the weekend, which could add to travel disruption.

The Met Office has issued warnings for rain in parts of Wales, parts of Scotland and areas in southern England.

The warnings in Wales and England come into force at 2pm on Saturday and will remain in place until 3am on Sunday.

ITV Weather forecast for the UK

The warning in Scotland is in place from midday until midnight on Saturday.

The areas of England and Wales covered by the weather warning – which include Cardiff, Swansea, Portsmouth and Cornwall – can expect as much as 40-60 mm of rain, particularly over hills in south Wales and south-west England.

The rain will be accompanied by strong winds, with gusts of 45-55mph expected over hills and around coasts.

Train cleaners vote to strike over pay, threatening a huge walkout

Workers who clean trains have voted to strike over pay, threatening the biggest ever national walkout in the industry.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said more than 1,000 of its members working for several private contractors backed industrial action.

The union is demanding a wage rate of £15 an hour, sick pay, decent holidays and good pensions from contractors.

The union’s executive will decide next week what days strike action will take place.

Mick Lynch called the decision 'historic'. Credit: PA

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “This is a historic result and I congratulate cleaner members across the transport network.

“It is scandalous that multimillion-pound companies are making hand-over-fist profits while not paying cleaners properly.

“RMT will fight every step of the way to end the super-exploitation of contracted-out cleaners and will not rest until these greedy companies pay up.”