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Scab manager to blame for London train chaos, Aslef says

A TRAIN that brought down overhead electric cables — causing chaos at one of Britain’s busiest railway stations — was being driven by a manager who was scabbing during the drivers’ strike, their union Aslef has said.

The accident happened at Paddington station in London on Thursday, when drivers at train operator GWR were on strike.

Hundreds of passengers were stranded on dark, cold trains for several hours while receiving no information from operators.

The hapless scab threw Friday’s services out of Paddington into chaos when drivers returned to work.

Drivers last week implemented a rolling programme of 24-hour strikes over pay, affecting different operating companies on different days.

Aslef said GWR used a manager to drive a train so that the company could claim it was running services despite the strike.

The union said: “He is an operations investigations manager who was paid £500 for a short shift so GWR could say ‘we have provided a service to passengers today.’

“Overhead electric wires were badly damaged and the line was closed.”

An Aslef spokesperson said: “Some train companies, such as Southeastern, chose, quite sensibly, not to run any services when Aslef called a strike.

“More than 96 per cent of the train drivers in England, Scotland, and Wales choose to belong to Aslef and will not cross a picket line. 

"That’s why many companies take the practical decision to suspend all services on strike days.

“Others, such as GWR, try to ‘break the strike,’ as the company puts it, by offering managers £500 for a shift. Many refuse. But some, like Judas, take the silver.

“The problem is that many of these managers haven’t driven a train for a long time and their competence is not what it should be.

“We saw the result on Thursday. But, I suppose, as an operations investigations manager he is uniquely qualified to investigate his own actions and what went wrong.”

Aslef launched strike action in June 2022 and says that by the start of 2024 the drivers will not have had a pay increase for five years.

The union says the only operators affected are those in which the Westminster government is involved.

A GWR spokesperson said the driver was fully qualified with “competence up to date.”

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