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Train bosses agree to talk after strikes cripple Britain's railways

TRAIN drivers’ union Aslef is expected to hold formal talks with industry bosses this week after Saturday’s solid strike action crippled large parts of Britain’s network.

Steve Montgomery, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, and Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan confirmed that the talks would go ahead following the 24-hour action.

Picket lines set up across Britain — including at Ashford, Hull, Liverpool, London and  Manchester — amid disputes over jobs, pay and conditions.

Members of Aslef at nine train companies walked out on Saturday morning, leading to station closures, train cancellations and reduced services.

Aslef said that drivers on strike have not had a pay increase for three years.

They have gained support from other trade unions, such as Unite, and Labour MPs Dawn Butler and Barry Gardiner during their action, which hit Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains.

Mr Whelan said he was astonished by the turnout in London, where dozens stood at King’s Cross, Euston, Paddington and Willesden Junction, waving banners and signs in 33°C heat.

Pickets said the union members appeared at different sites on rotation, with the lines organised to stand near shaded areas and offered water and refreshments.

Mr Whelan said: “I’ve been fed hundreds of pictures from across the UK from Ashford, to Hull, Manchester, Liverpool to numerous places where we’re seeing picket lines of 20-30 people.

“I also want to thank all those other trade unionists and members of civil society that have come out and supported us today: trades councils, other trade unions, local groups.

“This seems to be, as opposed to other transport strikes, something that people get: they understand it’s all sectors, all workers, all doing something because of the cost-of-living crisis.”

He said he was keen to resolve the issues members are facing and to get back to his day job.

Mr Montgomery described the planned formal talks as a “really good step forward” and an opportunity to prevent further strikes.

The union is also balloting drivers at Chiltern Railways, Northern Trains and TransPennine Express for strikes, with the results due later this month.

Members of the RMT and TSSA unions will strike this Thursday and Saturday (August 18 and 20), while industrial action will be taken on Friday (August 19) by London Underground and London bus drivers.

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