The train drivers’ union Aslef has announced a week-long overtime ban at the start of July, which will further disrupt much of Britain’s railway.
While the union has stopped short of calling fresh strikes in the long-running pay dispute, the industrial action by about 12,000 drivers across the 16 English train operators contracted to the Department for Transport is likely to cause more headaches for passengers.
The effects of the overtime ban, running from Monday 3 July until the end of Saturday 8 July, will vary for different operators, but as the mass cancellations at TransPennine Express have showed, many firms still rely on rest-day working to run a full service.
Trains will continue to run normally within Wales, Scotland and London, where drivers are not in dispute, but intercity cross-border services will likely be affected.
Ballots for a renewed six-month strike mandate returned overwhelming majorities in favour last week.
Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, said: “Once again, we find ourselves with no alternative but to take this action. We have continually come to the negotiating table in good faith, seeking to resolve this dispute.
“Sadly, it is clear from the actions of both the train operating companies and the government that they do not want an end to the dispute. Their goals appear to be to continue industrial strife and to do down our industry.
“We don’t want to inconvenience the public. We just want to see our members paid fairly during a cost of living crisis when inflation is running at above 10%, and to not see our terms and conditions taken away. It’s time for the government and the companies to think again and look for a resolution.”
Drivers have been offered a 4% pay rise backdated to April 2022, and another 4% from April 2023, which Aslef dismissed as “risible” given previous pay freezes and the rate of inflation.
There were three days of strike action by drivers and another by RMT train operating staff in late May and early June. The RMT union also remains in dispute and may call further action.
Ministers and rail industry leaders have said there will be no increased pay offer and have urged both unions to put the proposals to a full vote of their members.
Aslef last week announced separate action at Avanti West Coast and LNER in disputes with the companies. There will be a 24-hour strike at Avanti on Sunday 2 July and a continuous overtime ban at LNER from the start of July.
This Wednesday marks the first anniversary of the first RMT strike in the current dispute, with unions in rail and other sectors vowing to continue action for pay to keep up with the cost of living.