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London train strikes May 2024: everything you need to know



Does anyone even remember what life was like in London before the train strikes? Union members have been walking out since all the way back in the summer of 2022, making it pretty much two years since the UK was blissfully rail-strike-free. And industrial action isn’t going away anytime soon – more strikes have been announced for next month. 

The next round of strikes were announced today (April 22) and will come from ASLEF train drivers across the UK. Drivers at 16 train operators will walk out in a rolling programme lasting from May 7 to May 9 and not work overtime for a six-day period. These strikes follow several days of action by ASLEF and TSSA members in April. 

In slightly brighter news,  industrial action on the tube scheduled for May has been called off. We’re also currently seeing respite from RMT workers striking on non-TfL services, as before Christmas the union’s members voted to pause strikes for now. 

Here’s everything you need to know about planned industrial action on London’s train network. 

All you need to know about the train strikes across the UK.

When are the next London train strikes?

The next strike will come from ASLEF drivers, who will walk out on May 7-9 and take part in a six-day overtime ban from May 6-11. Not all 16 operators will be hit by strikes for the entire three-day period. 

Which London train lines will be affected?

The ASLEF strikes will impact 16 rail companies, though they won’t all be impacted at the same time. Here’s the breakdown of which lines will be on strike and when. 

May 7: c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern, South Western and Gatwick Express.

May 8: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway and West Midlands. 

May 9: LNER, Northern Trains, and TransPennine.

Nationwide ASLEF strikes typically affect 16 train companies, some of which operate services in and out of London. These are all the lines that will be affected:

  • Avanti West Coast
  • CrossCountry
  • East Midlands Railway
  • Great Western Railway
  • LNER
  • TransPennine Express
  • C2C
  • Greater Anglia
  • GTR (Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern, Thameslink)
  • Southeastern
  • South Western Railway
  • Chiltern Railways
  • Northern Trains
  • West Midlands Railway

When are the tube strikes?

Currently, there are no strikes planned for the London Underground. 

More than 2,000 London Underground drivers who are ASLEF members were supposed to walk out on April 8 and May 4. These strikes have now been called off. 

What’s been said about the strikes?

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘It is now a year since we sat in a room with the train companies – and a year since we rejected the risible offer they made and which they admitted, privately, was designed to be rejected.’

In February, ASLEF members voted overwhelmingly to continue striking. 

How long will the London train strikes last?

A typical strike day tends to last for an entire 24-hour period. However, there could also be disruption on the day following a strike. 

When it comes to other train lines, each operator is different. Check your respective rail operator’s official website to find out exactly how many trains will be running and how long the action is expected to impact services. 

Is the London Overground on strike?

Strikes on the Overground (which was recently renamed and re-coloured) in February were suspended. No more action is planned. 

Will the Elizabeth line be on strike? 

There are no strikes currently planned for Elizabeth line services

Will strikes affect the Eurostar? 

Eurostar is not expected to be affected by any strike dates. Find the latest details on the Eurostar website.

Why are UK train workers striking?

The ASLEF union is striking to protest a below-inflation pay increase. Drivers on some operators have now gone five years without a pay increase. 

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘We have given the government every opportunity to come to the table but it has now been a year since we had any contact from the Department for Transport. It’s clear they do not want to resolve this dispute.

‘Many of our members have now not had a single penny increase to their pay in half a decade, during which inflation soared and with it the cost of living.

‘The government has now tried their old trick of changing the rules when they can’t win and brought in minimum service levels legislation. But this new law, as we told officials during the consultation period, won’t ease industrial strife. It will likely just make it worse.

‘There’s no excuse. The government and train operating companies must come to the table with a realistic offer so we can end this dispute and work together to ensure the future of our railways.’

How to get to London airports during the train strikes

When trains are both out of action due to strikes, there are other ways to get to London’s airports. Both the tube (Piccadilly line) and other rail lines (like the Elizabeth line) service Heathrow, while coaches frequently run from central and outer London areas from the likes of National Express. They’re also, obvs, all accessible by road – whether you’d like to drive or get a taxi. Expect higher levels of traffic during strike days. 

What do the government’s anti-strike laws mean for London?

A bill requiring striking workers to meet ‘minimum service levels’ passed last year. The anti-strike legislation supposedly ensures ‘minimum service levels’ on key public services, including trains, making it pretty difficult for things to grind to a complete halt. 

The law can theoretically allow bosses in rail, health, fire, ambulance, education and nuclear commissioning to sue unions and even sack employees if minimum services aren’t met during strikes. 

However, many people, including opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer, expressed concern that these laws could infringe on workers’ fundamental right to strike.

As for London trains, the legislation could make strike action less severe. With a minimum service, it would be less likely for there to be absolutely no tubes, Overgrounds or trains.

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