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UK Rail Strikes – What do I need to know?

Looking for a guide to UK rail strikes? You’re in the right place. Here’s our guide to why and when train strikes are happening, what an ‘overtime ban’ is, and how you can get to where you need to go.

When are the next train strikes?

The ASLEF union is currently in dispute with a number of rail operators. The following dates have been announced for strike action

  • 1 March (LNER, Northern)

There are regular overtime bans in place. This mostly affects the ASLEF union, and it is currently set to affect the following dates:

  • 29 February, 2 March (LNER, Northern). 

You should expect disruption throughout this period. On a strike day, limited or no trains will run. On other days, operators may choose to run an amended timetable. If they don’t, you should expect last-minute cancellations and alterations.

Operators that aren’t affected by strike action may be busier than usual.

Hitachi engineering staff will be striking between February 10 and 24 for a total of eight days (discontinuously). This will cause short-notice cancellations and disruptions to LNER services. However, it’s not expected that this will cause widespread disruption. 

    Why are there UK rail strikes?

    There are a mixture of reasons as to why rail staff are currently in dispute with operators. This includes:

    • Pay
    • Conditions – such as changes to rostering and overtime requirements.

    What is an overtime ban and why does it matter?

    An overtime ban is exactly what it sounds like. It doesn’t mean that staff are refusing to work, it means that they’re only working the hours that they’re contracted to.

    Some operators rely on overtime more than others, so it can profoundly impact their service. Some companies will have more short-notice cancellations, while others will run an extremely limited timetable.

    An overtime ban is a form of industrial action but not a strike. Some operators may choose to run the same timetable as they have during a strike, but staff are still turning up to work as scheduled.

    How much notice is given for rail strikes?

    Unions have to give at least two weeks’ notice for any industrial action, such as a strike or overtime ban. If it is less than two weeks until your journey, and no industrial action has been announced, then your journey should not be affected in this way.

    Remember to still check before you travel, as last-minute cancellations to individual trains are still possible.

    What sort of service will be running during the strikes and overtime ban?

    Train operators will run a reduced timetable when there is industrial action, or they may not run any services at all.

    During an ASLEF strike, it is more likely than not that there will be no service on many routes. We’d recommend checking with individual rail operators. Long-distance rail operators are less likely to be affected, while companies such as Southern and Thameslink will normally run a dedicated reduced timetable.

    We’d strongly recommend checking the dedicated National Rail page. 

    Refunds & Amendments during UK rail strikes

    Anytime, Super Off-Peak or Off-Peak tickets are fully refundable if you haven’t used them. Here’s how to apply for a fee-free refund from us. You’re entitled to a full fee-free refund if your train is cancelled or rescheduled and you choose not to travel. Please check your train operator’s website before you travel for service updates.

    If your journey includes travel on TfL services, such as the London Underground, then you will not be able to use your ticket on an alternative day. We’d recommend using Contactless or Oyster for the lowest fare on most London Underground journeys. 

    Still have questions? You can also check for regular updates on the National Rail website. Or email us if there’s something you need to know about your trip. Our customer service team is here to help.

    Which companies are not affected by UK rail strikes?

    The following companies aren’t affected by the current dispute: 

    • Caledonian Sleeper
    • Elizabeth Line
    • Grand Central 
    • Hull Trains
    • London Overground
    • Lumo 
    • Merseyrail 
    • ScotRail
    • Transport for Wales.

    Affected services

    The following rail operators are involved in the current disputes with the RMT and ASLEF unions:

    • Avanti West Coast
    • c2c
    • Chiltern Railways
    • CrossCountry
    • East Midlands Railway
    • Gatwick Express
    • Great Northern
    • Great Western Railway
    • Greater Anglia (inc. Stansted Express)
    • Heathrow Express
    • LNER
    • London Northwestern Railway
    • Northern
    • South Western Railway
    • Southeastern
    • Southern
    • Thameslink
    • TransPennine Express
    • West Midlands Railway.

    While most affected operators will not be running any trains on ASLEF strike days, most will run a limited service on RMT strike days. Click here for more information by selecting your rail operator.

    Please note: All information contained on this page, including any service information, is issued without liability. It was correct at the time of publication (February 16, 2024) but may be subject to change. Railsmartr is not responsible for any loss, inconvenience or disrupted travel plans incurred as a result of the information provided. Always check with your rail operator before you travel.