More rail strikes today amid new drivers leaving work

Rail strikes in the UK will increase today as drivers start a new strike – meaning there will be no trains in some areas.

While the RMT union’s 48-hour industrial action is now over, members of the Aslef union are now going on strike as part of a long-running wage dispute.

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Drivers at 15 rail companies are involved and commuters will be impacted by:

• Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railroad, North, South, Southeast, Thameslink and TransPennine Express trains will not run all day
• Rail links to Britain’s two busiest airports will be cut off with the closure of Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express
• Trains will run in Wales, most of Scotland and parts of the South Western Rail network
• Services will also operate on the London Overground and Elizabeth Line

Overall, it is estimated that only 20% of normal services will operate – passengers will face heavy disruption for the third consecutive day in the first working week of 2023.

New strikes are looming, with the RMT arranging another 48-hour strike on Friday and Saturday.

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The Aslef union represents train drivers, and its general secretary, Mick Whelan, warned that new strikes were “inevitable”.

“The situation is getting worse and my members now want to go harder and faster due to the lack of progress,” Whelan said, threatening that the strike action could escalate further.

“More strikes are inevitable, and possibly escalation,” he said.

Sky News learned that Rishi Sunak will announce legislation in the coming days that will enforce “minimum service levels” across six industries.

The law will require some union members to continue working to maintain a “minimal” level of service.

The six sectors involved are believed to be healthcare, railroads, education, fire services, border security and nuclear power.

Strikes can be considered illegal if unions refuse to meet the minimum.

Read more: Union urges Rishi Sunak to ‘step on the layer’

Rachel Reeves, the Labor Party’s shadow chancellor, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that her party “would not support” such a bill aimed at stopping strike action.

Yesterday, the prime minister insisted that his door was always open, adding: “You will hear more about our approach from the government in the coming days.”

While saying that people should have the right to strike, Sunak warned, “This must be balanced with the right of the British people to live their lives without excessive disruption as we have seen recently.”

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