Rail strike chaos 'could drag on for another year' as disruption hits FA Cup Final and Epsom Derby

3 June 2023, 01:29 | Updated: 3 June 2023, 03:33

Rail strikes "could continue until next summer" after talks with the Government over pay broke down, as train drivers represented by Aslef bring services to a standstill on the day of the FA Cup Final.
Rail strikes "could continue until next summer" after talks with the Government over pay broke down, as train drivers represented by Aslef bring services to a standstill on the day of the FA Cup Final. Picture: Getty / Alamy

By Chris Samuel

Rail strikes "could continue until next summer" after pay talks between ministers and unions broke down, as train drivers represented by Aslef bring services to a standstill on the day of the FA Cup Final.

The walkout, which is the union's 11th since last June, is expected to affect fans travelling to Wembley, as well as the Epsom Derby and England's Test Match at Lord's on Saturday.

Aslef boss Mick Whelan has said there is "no waning in enthusiasm" from train drivers to continue striking, and said the union is "determined to get a resolution and remain in this for the long haul".

According to a senior rail source quoted by the Daily Mail, unions are willing to continue strike action long-term in pursuit of a satisfactory deal, with walkouts not set to end "any time soon".

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"It’s easily going on until the end of the year and potentially even until next summer," they said.

"Certainly the train unions aren’t going to agree to the reforms that the operators need to bring in to balance the books, so the operators will just have to carry on regardless and push it through."

RMT members at the picket line outside Euston Station on June 2 as rail strikes continue in the UK over pay
RMT members at the picket line outside Euston Station on June 2 as rail strikes continue in the UK over pay. Picture: Getty

Aslef are staging their second walkout of the week on Saturday, after previous strike action on Wednesday.

The RMT, which is also in an on-going row with ministers over pay, went on strike on Saturday.

Both unions shave rejected the pay offers put forward so far this year, with Aslef dismissing the 4 percent rise table as "risible" given train drivers haven't had a pay rise in four years.

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On Friday, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said despite no pay deal yet being struck, the strikes had been "a success" and said they had put unions "back on the map"

‘They wanted to make thousands of our people redundant, they wanted to shut every booking office in Britain, restructure our engineering workers, cut the catering service," he said at picket line at London's Euston station.

Rail workers stand on a picket line outside Euston rail station as the new round of strikes by train drivers begins on May 31, 2023 in London, England.
Rail workers stand on a picket line outside Euston rail station as the new round of strikes by train drivers begins on May 31, 2023 in London, England. Picture: Getty

"So we’ve pushed them back on that, they haven’t been able to implement any of their plans. What we haven’t got is a pay deal, we haven’t got any guarantees on our members’ futures but we have stopped them doing the worst aspects of their proposals and their ideas.

‘It has been a success, our members are still with us, they’ve had three ballots to continue with the strike action.

"Other people seem to have been inspired to fight back and take action in their own industries, so it has been a success and it’s put trade unions back on the map."

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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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