COMMUTERS making use of Taunton's train station could face disruption if a new round of announced strikes goes ahead.

The ASLEF trade union has declared a new wave of industrial action over January and February, affecting a number of operators.

The strike action will begin on January 30 and end on February 5 - when on Monday Great Western Railway and Cross Country services will be impacted.

The GWR line services much of the south west on the Taunton to Reading line, and is a regular halt at the county town's station.

The strikes have been called as part of an ongoing row between unions and the government over pay and conditions. Announcing the action, ASLEF boss Mick Whelan said:

"We have given the government every opportunity to come to the table but it has now been a year since we had any contact from the Department for Transport. It's clear they do not want to resolve this dispute.

"Many of our members have now not had a single penny increase to their pay in half a decade, during which inflation soared and with it the cost of living. Train drivers didn't even ask for an increase during the Covid-19 pandemic when they worked throughout as keyworkers, risking their lives to allow NHS and other workers to travel.

"The government has now tried their old trick of changing the rules when they can't win and brought in Minimum Service Levels legislation. But this new law, as we told officials during the consultation period, won't ease industrial strife. It will likely just make it worse. 

"There's no excuse. The government and train operating companies must come to the table with a realistic offer so we can end this dispute and work together to ensure the future of our railways."

However, industry body The Rail Delivery Group said the offer on the table of £65,000 for a four-day week was more than adequate. Commenting a spokesperson said:

"That is well above the national average and significantly more than many of our passengers that have no option to work from home are paid.

"Instead of staging more damaging industrial action, we call on the Aslef leadership to work with us to resolve this dispute and deliver a fair deal which both rewards our people, and makes the changes needed to make services more reliable."