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“Absolutely horrendous!” Lincoln commuters react to ongoing rail strikes

Commuters in Lincoln city centre have voiced their frustration with the ongoing rail strikes — and they are eagerly awaiting a resolution as soon as possible.

People waiting outside Lincoln Central Station said they have reached their limit with the ongoing disruption, as train drivers began a new wave of walkouts in their long-running pay dispute.

The dispute between the Aslef union and 14 train operators across England has now entered its third calendar year, with drivers from South Western Railway, Southeastern, and GTR all participating in walkouts on Tuesday.

Lincoln Central Station. Photo: James Turner
Lincoln Central Station. Photo: James Turner

Drivers from Northern and TransPennine Express joined the strike on Wednesday, and additional services are expected to be impacted as the week progresses, with it set to continue until Tuesday, February 6.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, has pointed out that some union members have not received a pay raise for five years, and that ministers have declined to engage with the union for the past year.

He told The Independent: “Any industrial action is incredibly damaging, but after 18 months out on strike, and after a year with no one in the government or the [train operating] companies talking to us, we are forced to raise the profile of our issues.”

A notice about the upcoming industrial action in Lincoln Central Station. Photo: James Turner
A notice about the upcoming industrial action in Lincoln Central Station. Photo: James Turner

In response, Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: “Passengers are being targeted by Aslef’s decision to go on strike, despite union bosses having an offer on the table that would take train drivers’ average salary up to £65,000 for a four-day week.

“While the RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers), TSSA (Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association) and Unite have all agreed deals for their members, Aslef’s leadership isn’t even putting the fair offer on the table to a vote of their members.”

Outside Lincoln Central Station, when asked about her view on the situation, Pat Hunter had a straightforward response: “Don’t remind me.”

She later recalled that a few months ago, her husband had plans to attend his son’s stag party in Newcastle. However, due to the strikes at the time, he could only manage to get a train to Doncaster.

“It’s absolutely horrendous,” she said. Mrs Hunter also criticised train drivers for “doing nothing” and yet receiving a substantial salary.

Catherine Black and James Bonson, from Milton Keynes, were also waiting for a train. Catherine straightforwardly stated: “I would quite like it to end.”

Observing the apparent deadlock between the union and the government, she added: “One party has to compromise.”

James also commented: “It’s difficult to say because we don’t use them as often for it to have a big impact on us, but it’s still inconvenient.”

He also expressed sympathy for the train drivers, considering emerging technologies like driverless trains making their job “obsolete.”

“From my perspective, that isn’t fair on the drivers because they haven’t done anything wrong, but, at the same time, they have to run a business,” he continued.

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Another woman, who wished not to be named, also held sympathy for the drivers, but maintained that the ongoing nature of the strike was inconvenient.

She said: “I do understand why people strike, but it just makes things difficult.” Reflecting on the deadlock between parties, she pondered, “Sometimes I do wonder if there is a reluctance to get anything done, to be honest.”

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