Tory conference to be hit by travel chaos as fresh train strikes announced

New train strike dates announced coinciding with Tory conference

Train drivers are to stage fresh strikes coinciding with the Tory conference.

Aslef announced its members at 16 train operators will walk out on September 30 – the day before the annual gathering – and the final day of the event on October 4.

The union said the strikes will force train operators to cancel all services.

It will cause travel chaos for those heading to and from the Conservative conference in Manchester, which is being held from October 1 to 4.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper branded the strikes “cynical” and “politically motivated”.

Mr Harper said: “Aslef’s cynical strikes on 30 September and 4 October are politically motivated.

“Train drivers are paid an average of £60k for a 35-hour, four-day week.

“There’s an offer on the table to take that up to £65k – and still they strike, putting their own jobs at risk.”

Aslef members will also ban overtime from September 29 to October 6, which the union said will “seriously disrupt” the rail network.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: “While we regret having to take this action – we don’t want to lose a day’s pay or disrupt passengers as they travel by train – the Government and employers have forced us into this position.

“Our members have not had a pay rise for four years – since 2019 – and that’s not right when prices have soared in that time.

“Train drivers quite reasonably want to be able to buy now what they could buy four years ago.”

Mr Whelan likened Mr Harper to “Where’s Wally?”, claiming he had made no contact with the union since last December.

The union boss said: “Where’s Mark Harper? He holds the purse strings. The train companies have told us. They say they cannot act without his say-so.”

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