Welsh rail services cancelled over strike

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of rail services will be cancelled today because of a strike by train drivers over pay.

Members of Aslef at Arriva Trains Wales refused to work overtime yesterday - causing huge disruption - and will stage a 24-hour walkout today, leading to the cancellation of up to 900 services.

The company urged passengers to make alternative travel arrangements because of the next industrial action, which is also set to hit services tomorrow morning.

Arriva only ran a small number of services in south and west Wales yesterday, with shuttle services between Barry and Pontypridd, via Cardiff Central, Bridgend and Cardiff, via the Vale of Glamorgan line and Carmarthen and Swansea.

The firm said a small number of train drivers reported for work.

Peter Leppard, Operations Director for Arriva Trains Wales, said: "The fact we have been able to operate a small number of services demonstrates that not all train drivers support industrial action. However, we do still advise rail users to make alternative travel arrangements for Monday.

"We are still extremely disappointed that our generous offer has been rejected and that the planned industrial action by Aslef has gone ahead.

"The current pay offer, which is in excess of 12% over two years, brings drivers' salaries to £39,117 for a 35-hour, four-day average week and remains available for discussion.

"Arriva Trains Wales remains committed to finding a resolution to the current pay dispute."

Talks between the two sides were held last week but there was no breakthrough to the dispute.

It is expected that further strike dates will be announced shortly. Aslef said the action was in pursuit of an "acceptable" pay increase which months of negotiation had failed to provide.

Aslef official Stan Moran said he expected today's strike would be "100% solid", warning that fresh dates for action could be set later this week.

The ban on overtime and rest day working will continue indefinitely, hitting services across the Arriva Trains Wales network, he said.

Mr Moran said the 12% pay offer had a number of "strings" attached, such as productivity improvements, which were holding back any chance of a deal.

He claimed that drivers employed by Arriva in other parts of Britain earned thousands of pounds more than those in Wales.

Rail travellers were advised to check the Arriva Trains Wales website, http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk, or contact National Rail Inquiries on 08457 48 49 50.

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