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When are the next rail strikes and which lines will be impacted?

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Passengers face big disruption to their journeys on dates in May and June as members of three separate transport unions confirmed they’re walking out after rejecting the latest pay offer.

In date order, here’s a snapshot of the rail strike action taking place (see below for more information and how this will affect you and your journey):

Friday 12 May: ASLEF members
Saturday 13 May: RMT members
Wednesday 24 May: TSSA members 
Wednesday 31 May:
ASLEF members
Saturday 3 June: ASLEF members

ASLEF member strike action

Members of the ASLEF train drivers’ union will take to the picket lines on Friday 12 May, Wednesday 31 May, and Saturday 3 June, with the June date affecting the FA Cup final.

Members from these 15 train operating companies will go on strike: Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; GTR Great Northern Thameslink; London North Eastern Railway; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Southern/Gatwick Express; SWR depot drivers; SWR Island Line; TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains.

ASLEF represents more than 96% of train drivers so it is “very unlikely” services will run on the strike dates. Of those that will run, trains will start later and finish much earlier than usual – typically between 7.30am and 6.30pm. Passengers are advised to contact their train operating company for service information.

ASLEF members at these train companies have been in dispute for almost a year over a fair deal on pay. It said most of the drivers have not had a pay increase at all since 2019 and with inflation still well over 10% and the cost-of-living spiralling, “this is not acceptable”.

The timetables for 31 May are expected to be published on Wednesday 24 May. Timetables for 3 June will be published on Saturday 27 May.

RMT member rail strike action

Members of the RMT union working in 14 train operating companies will stage strike action on Saturday 13 May – the date of the final of the Eurovision song contest held in Liverpool.

The 14 train operating companies include:

The Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, Transpennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

It means passengers are likely to face big disruption to journeys and are urged to check service and times before travelling.

Further, it is likely that evening services on some lines will be affected on the days before each strike, so passengers should also check the last train times on the evenings before strike days and the mornings following strikes.

National Rail confirmed that Merseyrail, which operates trains in and around the Liverpool area, will run late night trains on their Northern and Wirral lines on Saturday 13 May into the early hours of Sunday 14 May. The times of the last trains on each line can be found on the Merseyrail website. Merseyrail is not affected by the strikes.

Most (not all) of the other train operating companies that go to and from Liverpool will only have a very limited service during parts of the day due to strike action.

Passengers should check the National Rail Enquiries Journey Planner before travelling.

TSSA member strike action

On Wednesday 24 May, strike action by dozens of TSSA members working on London’s Elizabeth Line will take place.

This is exactly a year to the date that the Elizabeth line was officially opened, and is the second strike after workers walked out on 12 January 2023. It is the UK’s busiest railway, responsible for one in six of all journeys.

TSSA members work in “hands-on operation roles” on the railway including traffic managers, service and infrastructure, and incident response.

They said the strike action is due to an ongoing dispute over the pay of key operational staff “who ensure that the trains run safely”.

It argued that many staff on the Elizabeth Line are paid tens of thousands of pounds less than workers performing similar roles on other parts of the Transport for London (TfL) network, including London Underground and DLR.

The members have also voted for action short of a strike, (essentially consisting of an overtime ban and removal of good will) from Saturday 27 May to Sunday 4 June.

Examples of “removal of good will” include no covering duties of other roles and grades, only working contracted hours and taking all contractual breaks, no out-of-hours communications and no taking on of contingency duties caused by strike action. The overtime ban will mean a refusal to work rest days and special spare shifts.

Can you get a refund on your ticket?

Customers with Advance, Anytime or Off-Peak tickets for travel on a strike day can instead use their ticket on an alternative date:

  • Tickets for Friday 12 May or Saturday 13 May can be used on Thursday 11 May or up to and including Tuesday 16 May.
  • Tickets for Wednesday 31 May can be used on the day before the date on the ticket or up to and including Friday 2 June.
  • Tickets for Saturday 3 June can be used on the day before the date on the ticket or up to and including Tuesday 6 April.

Passengers with Advance tickets can be refunded fee-free if the train that the ticket is booked for is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.

If the Advance ticket is for a train scheduled for a strike day, but it is not cancelled, delayed or rescheduled, and if you prefer not to travel, contact your ticket retailer.

Customers with two Advance tickets (an outbound and a return), to be used as a return journey, may be able to get a fee-free refund or change of journey for any unused legs/tickets, if either of the legs is scheduled for a strike day. Customers should check with their ticket retailer.

Season Ticket holders (flexi, monthly or longer) who cannot travel, can claim 100% compensation through Delay Repay for the strike dates of Friday 12 May, Saturday 13 May, Wednesday 31 May and Saturday 3 June.

‘No alternative but to strike’

The strike action comes as the unions have rejected the latest offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) with the RMT claiming the original offer accepted has been changed.

RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “The RDG have reneged on their original proposals and torpedoed these negotiations.

“Therefore, we have no alternative but to press ahead with more strike action and continue our campaign for a negotiated settlement on pay, conditions and job security.”

ASLEF’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, said train drivers had not had a pay rise since 2019, with the proposed 4% “clearly not designed to be accepted as inflation is still running north of 10”.

Whelan added: “We do not want to go on strike – we do not want to inconvenience passengers, we have families and friends who use the railway, too, and we believe in investing in rail for the future of this country – but the blame for this action lies, fairly and squarely, at the feet of the employers who have forced our hand over this by their intransigence.

“It is now up to them to come up with a more sensible, and realistic, offer and we ask the Government not to hinder this process.”

TSSA organising director, Mel Taylor, said, “We’ve been in talks with management for almost a year now, yet the majority of our members have been offered an uplift of just over 1% to make up for the huge pay differentials.

“Elizabeth Line staff work weekends, nights and even Christmas Day, operating the world’s only fully digital railway, but many earn less than two thirds of the salary paid to other TfL staff in similar roles. Our members don’t want to have to take strike action, but they’ve had enough.”

‘Disappointment, frustration and financial burden’

Steve Montgomery, chair of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “The upcoming rail strikes called by the ASLEF and RMT leadership will not only affect our passengers’ daily commute but will also impact those travelling from outside Liverpool and London to come to Eurovision and the FA Cup final, causing disappointment and frustration for those who have planned to attend. It will also further burden our people who have already lost thousands of pounds at a time of financial strain.

“We understand the impact of these strikes on individuals and businesses alike, and we can only apologise for this unnecessary and damaging disruption. While we are doing all we can to keep trains running, unfortunately there will be reduced train services across the network between Friday 12 May and Saturday 3 June, so our advice is to check before you travel. Passengers with Advance tickets can be refunded fee-free if the train that the ticket is booked for is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.”

Related: Your right to a refund if travel is affected by train strikes