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London train strikes December 2023: everything you need to know

More industrial action is set to impact the capital’s rail network this week

India Lawrence
Written by
India Lawrence

Does anyone even remember what life was like in London before the train strikes? More rail strike action is taking place across the country in December, also impacting services in and out of the capital. 

The ASLEF union is currently on strike, with its drivers walking out with a ‘rolling programme’ of action. Drivers working for the union are also not working overtime for a lengthy period at the start of December. More on that below.

Disruption on the rest of the network will almost certainly continue for the foreseeable future, as the ASLEF union has voted overwhelmingly to continue striking on rail services for at least the next six months. To make matters worse, the RMT, TSSA and Unite recently rejected a five percent pay rise offer from TfL, making it even more likely that further strikes will take place. 

In slightly brighter news, we may soon see some respite from RMT workers on non-TfL services. The union’s members have voted to approve an agreement with the Rail Delivery Group over pay and job security that could see a pause in strikes until next spring. 

Worried about navigating the capital during this period of industrial action? Here’s everything you need to know. 

London travel disruption to know about this weekend, including on the Elizabeth Line, Tube and Overground.
All you need to know about the train strikes across the UK.

When are the next London train strikes?

ASLEF’s ‘rolling programme’ of 24-hour strikes is underway, taking place between December 2 and December 8. However, not all ASLEF workers will be on strike for that entire time and different train companies will see strikes on different days. 

On top of that, ASLEF drivers are not working overtime from December 1 to December 9

Until agreements between the government and rail unions are reached, we can expect further disruption in the near future. 

Which London train lines will be affected?

For the ASLEF strike next month, different networks will be affected on different days. Here’s the breakdown.

  • December 2: East Midlands Railway and LNER
  • December 3: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, Great Northern Thameslink, and West Midlands Trains
  • December 5: C2C and Greater Anglia
  • December 6: Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, SWR main line, SWR depot drivers and Island Line
  • December 7: CrossCountry and GWR
  • December 8: Northern and TPT

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

  • Avanti West Coast
  • CrossCountry
  • East Midlands Railway
  • Great Western Railway
  • LNER
  • TransPennine Express
  • C2C (not involved in the Aslef action)
  • 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?

There are no tube strikes currently planned.

However, RMT members are currently balloting on whether to continue taking action. That ballot closes on December 19, so that’s when we’ll know a bit more about further strikes on the tube. 

How long will the London train strikes last?

Each ASLEF strike will last for an entire 24-hour period. However, there could be disruption on the day following the 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. 

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?

ASLEF is striking in a continued row with train operators over pay. About the most recent action, Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, said: ‘Our members have spoken and we know what they think. Every time they vote – and they have voted overwhelmingly – for strike action in pursuit of a proper pay rise it is a clear rejection of the offer that was made in April.

‘We are determined to win this dispute.’ 

The RMT union has been battling with train companies over pay, working conditions and job cuts for well over a year. Last month, 89.9 percent of the union’s members voted to continue striking for at least the next six months, meaning RMT strikes could continue until Easter. 

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘I congratulate our members for delivering a decisive mandate for future industrial action as we pursue a negotiated settlement of jobs pay and conditions.

‘This ringing endorsement of RMT's approach to the dispute now means we have industrial leverage to secure an improved offer from the RDG.

‘However, if no new offer is forthcoming, we will once again take strike action in defence of our members livelihoods.’

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

A bill that would require striking workers to meet ‘minimum service levels’ went before parliament very recently (on November 7). The proposed anti-strike legislation would ensure ‘minimum service levels’ on key public services, including trains, making it pretty difficult for things to grind to a complete halt. 

The law would 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, have 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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