Train strikes: All you need to know as walkouts coincide with Eurovision and FA Cup Final

Passengers in Paddington Station, London, during a rail strike by Aslef and RMT union members. Credit: PA

Rail passengers face more chaos as the RMT has joined the rail drivers' union in releasing another set of strike dates, coinciding with both the Eurovision and FA Cup finals.

The ongoing dispute between rail unions and operating companies has been affecting customers for almost a year, with threats of further walkouts beyond the summer.

There are now four days of action planned in May and June, across the rail network.

These are May 12, May 13, May 31, and June 3.

Who is striking and when?

Train drivers from 15 rail operators who are members of the union, Aslef, will strike on:

  • Friday, May 12

  • Wednesday, May 31

  • Saturday, June 3

The rail companies affected will be:

  • Avanti West Coast

  • Chiltern Railways

  • CrossCountry

  • East Midlands Railway

  • Great Western Railway

  • Greater Anglia

  • GTR

  • Great Northern Thameslink

  • London North Eastern Railway

  • Northern Trains

  • Southeastern

  • Southern/Gatwick Express

  • SWR depot drivers

  • SWR Island Line

  • TransPenine Express

  • West Midlands Trains

The final date of this series of walkouts falls on the day of the FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Manchester United.

Fans heading to Wembley Stadium to watch the game are likely to see services cancelled as the rail network grinds to a halt.

It also threatens to severely disrupt people attending the Epsom Derby.

Aslef represents more than 96% of train drivers, so predicts disruption on the above strike days will be huge.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan on the picket line at Euston station in London. Credit: PA

Rail workers from 14 operators have also planned industrial action for:

  • Saturday, May 13

The rail companies affected will be:

  • Chiltern Railways

  • Cross Country Trains

  • Greater Anglia;

  • LNER

  • East Midlands Railway

  • c2c

  • Great Western Railway

  • Northern Trains

  • South Eastern

  • South Western Railway

  • Transpennine Express

  • Avanti West Coast

  • West Midlands Trains

  • and GTR (inc Gatwick Express)

People heading to Liverpool for the Eurovision Song Contest will get caught up in travel chaos, while driver strikes the day before will undoubtedly have an added impact on services.

The RMT union is also re-balloting its members, with a vote that could give the union a new six-month mandate for further walkouts.

RMT members of Network Rail will not be included in the upcoming strike action, after they voted to accept an offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

Thousands of members, including signalling staff, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the pay offer, which omits them from the upcoming walkout.

However, passengers can still expect disruption, with limited services and trains likely to be more crowded than normal.

Why are there more walkouts?

The union representing train drivers, Aslef, rejected what it called a "risible" pay offer from the 16 rail companies it remains in a dispute with.

Aslef general secretary, Mick Whelan, says most of its drivers haven't had a pay increase at all since 2019, and is arguing that drivers should be given a rise that reflects the current cost of living, with inflation still above 10%.

It therefore rejected an offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) which would see an 8% pay rise over two years.

Mr Whelan also announced the withdrawal of non-contractual overtime from Monday, May 15, to Saturday, May 31, also including Saturday, May 13, and Thursday, June 1.

Mick Lynch (centre), RMT general secretary, joins members on the picket line outside London Euston train station. Credit: PA

Meanwhile, the RMT Union turned down a "clarification" on an offer from the RDG.

The RMT said it included a first-year payment of 5% but on the condition its mandate for strike action is terminated, with no further walkouts.

RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said the RDG "torpedoed" the negotiations and will re-ballot members with a view to renewing a mandate for action, as well as announcing a walkout to coincide with a major sporting event on May 13.

What has the government said?

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "Passengers have been forced to endure the RMT's strike action for almost a year, yet the RMT executive is intent on continuing to force its members to lose even more pay.

"That's despite having a best and final offer, similar to the pay offer their Network Rail members recently voted to overwhelmingly accept.

"By yet again denying their members a chance to have a say, and then striking over the UK's first Eurovision event in 25 years - hosted for Ukraine - the RMT are simply further snubbing the very passengers they serve."

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