TRAIN drivers at another three companies have voted for strike action in a dispute over pay.

Members of trade union Aslef at Chiltern Railways and TransPennine Express, who both run services in Oxfordshire, and Northern Rail backed walkouts in the long-running row affecting the industry.

A series of serious rail strikes have already happened in the past few months, causing disruption for millions of passengers in the county.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said strikes were always the last resort, adding: “You can see from the votes – and the turnouts – just how angry our members are.

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“These are the men and women who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic, yet have not had a pay rise since 2019.

“With inflation running at north of 10% – and set to go much higher – several train companies are saying that they want their drivers to take a real-terms pay cut. Their attitude is ‘suck it up’ – and that stinks.

“We now have mandates at 12 companies.

“After our one-day strike on August 13, the Rail Delivery Group, the pressure group which represents the interests of the privatised train operating companies, asked for talks. Those talks were strained, but quite constructive.

“There were no concrete proposals but dialogue will, we hope, continue.

“That’s why we are calling on the companies to come to the table with a proper proposal to help our members, their drivers, buy this year what they could buy last year.

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“That is the way to prevent another strike and all the disruption that causes. The ball is now firmly in the train companies’ court.”

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “We want to give our people a pay rise, but to fund it unions must recognise that an industry that has lost 20 per cent of its revenue can either adapt or decline.

“Instead of causing further disruption to passengers and businesses, we urge the Aslef leadership to continue talks so we can adapt our services new travel patterns, improve punctuality and secure a bright, long-term future for our people.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Strikes should always be the last resort, not the first, so it is hugely disappointing that Aslef is calling for even more industrial action to disrupt our railway.

“Taxpayers across the country contributed £16 billion – £600 per household – to keep our railway running throughout the pandemic while ensuring not a single job was lost.

“The railway is on life support, and all further strikes will do is drive more people away from it while causing chaos to the day-to-day lives of the very people unions claim to represent.”

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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers. 

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