Rail strikes: Train drivers walk out on FA Cup final day

Another rail strike is to cripple train services, with thousands of people being forced to drive to major sport and music events taking place today

Thousands of people heading to sport and music events have been left with no rail services as train drivers stage a mass walkout.

The strike, by members of the Aslef union, coincide with the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley, the Epsom Derby as well as other sporting and music events including Beyoncé playing White Hart Lane.

Football fans have been advised not to travel by train to Wembley, leaving thousands having to drive to London instead.

Around 40% of trains will run on Saturday but there will be wide gaps, leaving some areas with no trains at all, The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said.

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The strike follows a walkout by train drivers on Wednesday and by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Friday in long-running disputes over pay, jobs and conditions.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan warned the strikes could continue for years until a resolution is found.

“We do not want to be on strike. But we are in this if it takes us four years, five years, whatever it is, to get a resolution to this, we will do what it takes to get to that resolution," he told Sky News.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said he wants the dispute to be resolved Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

He added: “We have gone four years without a pay rise, as have many other sectors and many other workers.

“But to stop now after four years, what will happen, we’ll not get a pay rise next year, the year after, the year after that.”

He said nobody has come to them to say they want to resolve the issue, adding that nobody from the government has spoken to them in more than six months.

Speaking earlier this week, he said: “It is time for the government to step back from interference which is preventing a deal – drivers, in line with other workers, deserve a pay rise after four years without one and inflation running, over the last 12 months, north of 10%."

Mr Whelan said the “dead hand” of the government is preventing a deal to end the dispute.

He described an offer of a 4% pay rise for last year and another 4% this year as “dismal”, adding that there has been no contact between the union and the employers or the government for weeks.

Picket lines will be mounted outside train stations across the country on Saturday, with drivers at 15 companies in England going on strike.

The RDG said the strikes were causing “disappointment and frustration” for tens of thousands of people.

“It will inconvenience families who have been looking forward and have planned their half-term holidays. It will also further burden our people who have already lost thousands of pounds at a time of financial strain.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has accused the Government of “deliberately squandering” billions of pounds on a “futile war” against the rail unions.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “These strikes have been coordinated by union leaders to disrupt passengers in a week which will see major events such as the first-ever all-Manchester FA Cup final, the Epsom Derby and a number of concerts and festivals across the UK.

“Not content with impacting the hundreds of thousands of people who have looked forward to these events all year round, unions are also targeting their own members’ pockets by forcing them to miss out on pay every time they strike.

“The government has facilitated a fair and reasonable pay offer, now union leaders must do the right thing and put this to their members.”

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