Rail strikes: London stations deserted as long-running dispute remains deadlocked

A person sweeping the floor in front of an empty departures board at Euston station in London, as members of the drivers' union Aslef and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) go on strike. Picture date: Wednesday October 5, 2022.
A person sweeping the floor in front of an empty departures board at Euston station in London Credit: PA

Some London stations were deserted on Wednesday as another rail strike brought services grinding to a halt.

Food courts and platforms normally busy with passengers were almost empty as members of the of the drivers’ union Aslef and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association walked out.

Euston was one of the stations hardest hit as a string of rail operators joined the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said the dispute would continue until the Government intervened. He urged Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan to "lift the shackles" from train companies so they could make a pay offer to workers. "The message I am receiving from my members is that they are in this for the long haul and if anything they want industrial action to be increased," he said.

Empty seats at Euston station in London Credit: PA

On Wednesday the train drivers' strike was affecting: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, Greater Anglia (including Stansted Express), Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Transpennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

Members of the TSSA will strike at CrossCountry and take other forms of industrial action at several other operators.

The TSSA is also planning industrial action on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, while members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at more than a dozen train companies and Network Rail will strike on Saturday.

Picket lines were mounted outside railway stations as union leaders warned that the long-running dispute remains deadlocked. Aslef announced that its members working on the Croydon Tramlink have rejected a pay offer and will strike on October 10 and 11. The union’s London officer, Finn Brennan, said: “The management’s offer of 4.75% is far below the current rate of inflation and would mean our members face real-terms pay cuts.” The workers have already staged two 48-hour strikes in the dispute.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said “only the Government” can solve the dispute over pay, jobs and conditions that led to more disruption across the transport network today as train drivers went on strike. The leader of the train drivers’ union said there were no further meetings scheduled with transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, but that he looked forward to trying to “find a solution together”.

Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan (right) at a picket line at Euston station in London Credit: PA

'She’s not listening'

Mr Whelan added that he had found the new Transport Secretary “very welcoming” in a recent meeting with her and that she had listened to the case put across by union leaders. Speaking at a picket line outside Euston Station, which is closed today because of the strikes, Mr Whelan said he would “talk to anybody at any time to resolve this situation”. However, he said Prime Minister Liz Truss was not getting “the mood music of the country” over the cost-of-living crisis. “She’s not listening to the teachers that are leaving the profession because they can’t afford it. She’s not listening to the nurses that are leaving in droves because it’s better for them to work elsewhere than in the NHS. “Only the Government can correct this and we ask them to do so.”

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