U.K. train drivers promise to strike during Olympics

Pension dispute could disrupt journey for thousands

(Reuters) — Hundreds of train drivers in central England will go on strike for three days during the Olympic Games, their trade union said on July 18, a move that could disrupt journeys to London from elsewhere in Britain during the historic event.

It was the second Olympics strike threat in as many days after border officials voted on Wednesday to walk out, raising the spectre of huge passport queues at Heathrow airport.

Around 450 members of the Aslef rail union will walk out between August 6 to 8 in a dispute over pension contributions, the union said. The Games run from July 27 to August 12.

The strike — by East Midlands Trains drivers — could disrupt the journeys of thousands of passengers travelling from English cities like Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby to London for the Games.

East Midlands Trains also runs services to Leicester, about 40 km from the City of Coventry Stadium, which hosts the women's bronze medal soccer match the day after the strike is due to end.

East Midlands Trains called on the union to hold more talks to avoid the strike. If it did go ahead, it said it would do all it could to prevent disruption.

Transport will be one of the biggest tests for the Games' organisers. There are no car parking spaces at London venues and all spectators will be expected to walk, cycle or use public transport.

Britain's rail and road network often struggles to cope with demand during busy periods and some fear the Olympics will prove too great a burden.

Extra staff have been deployed at airports to cut queues and more than 160 km of main roads in London will have special lanes reserved for athletes and officials.

Border officials were expected to announce details of their industrial action over pay and conditions later on July 18 after a turnout of only 20 per cent in their strike ballot.

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