Travel news: Train drivers step out, triggering more travel misery for Brits

Travel news: Train drivers step out, triggering more travel misery for Brits

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Rain drivers staged a 24-hour strike on Saturday, triggering the suspension of travel for Britons across the country.

Aslef union members on seven different rail companies staged a strike affecting services on the London Overground, LNER trains, Southeastern, Great Western, Greater Anglia, Hull Trains and all Heathrow Express trains.

This coincided with the second day of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the start of the English Football League season, while disputes over pay between unions and the government continue.

Although not involved in the strike, Southern and Thameslink warned passengers there could be travel disruptions due to increased usage.

Despite the need for a compromise, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps claimed union leaders Mick Lynch and Mick Whelan were “making fun of the UK taxpayer” by continuing to strike.

In response, Mr Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, told Times Radio on Saturday morning: ‘I say Mr Shapps is lying, quite simply and quite plainly.

“We don’t drag ourselves into negotiations, we deal with 14 private companies, we don’t work for the government or the DfT (Department for Transport).”

He added: “I want Mr Shapps to get us out of this catch 22 situation that he misrepresents at every opportunity.”

In support, a host of Labor MPs, including former Shadow Cabinet frontbencher Sam Tarry, joined pickets to support rail workers across the country.

Commenting on negotiations with the unions, the Department for Transport said: “It is extremely misleading to suggest that the Minister for Transport should be involved in these negotiations. His job is to protect the public coffers and ensure value for money for the hard working people of this country.

“As such, he must set the limits of taxpayer support and ultimately sign off on every deal, not be involved in negotiations, and his contracts with operators allow him to do just that.

“The union is well aware that negotiations on wages and labor practices are not conducted with the government but with the employers of the people they represent.

“We again urge union representatives to return to the negotiating table.”

Saturday’s strike will be preceded by three days of travel chaos next month.

On August 18, members of the RMT union working for Network Rail and 14 other train operators including Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, GTR (including Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express), GWR, LNER , Northern, Southeastern and South Western Railway will be phased out.

Although the network is not expected to be completely shut down, services will be extremely disrupted.

A subway strike is also planned for August 19, while another strike at National Rail and several other operators will take place on August 20.

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