Train drivers at eight rail companies will strike on 30 July in a dispute over pay, their union Aslef has said.

Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, said: “We don’t want to go on strike – strikes are the result of a failure of negotiation – and this union, since I was elected general secretary in 2011, has only ever been on strike, until this year, for a handful of days.

“We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – not least because our friends and families use public transport, too, and we believe in building trust in the railways in Britain – and we don’t want to lose money by going on strike.

“But we’ve been forced into this position by the train companies, driven by the Tory government. The drivers at the companies where we are striking have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years – since April 2019.

“And these companies are offering us nothing, saying their hands have been tied by the government. That means, in real terms, with inflation running ahead at 9%, 10%, and even 11% this year, according to which index you use, that they are being told to take a real terms pay cut. And that is not acceptable.

“Strike action is, now, the only option available but we are always open to talks if the train companies, or the government, want to talk to us and make a fair and sensible offer.”

The news comes a day after the RMT union said its members at rail operators and Network Rail would walk off the job for 24 hours on 27 July.

It had earlier rejected a “paltry” pay offer from Network Rail, with Mick Lynch, its general secretary, saying: “The train operating companies remain stubborn and are refusing to make any new offer which deals with job security and pay.”