Passengers report serious overcrowding on strike affected service
RMT members demonstrate
South Western Railway (SWR) say they are managing to run over half the timetabled service during the ongoing strike by the RMT Union. Passengers are saying that during the morning and evening rush hour trains are so overcrowded it is impossible to board many.
A spokesperson from SWR said after the first day of the strike this Tuesday, "We would like to thank our passengers for their patience today and apologise for the disruption to their services due the RMT’s unnecessary industrial action.
"Despite this action, we still provided over half our normal services thanks to our team of contingency guards and the one-in-three rostered guards who reported for work."
They prioritised services to Royal Ascot where they say the trains 'ran well' and they were able to keep racegoers moving but regular commuters struggled to get to work. SWR say that they are advising passengers to travel outside of the peak periods, wherever possible.
The industrial action is for five consecutive days from 18 to 22 June.
A SWR spokesperson said, "It’s very disappointing that the RMT union has called for more disruptive strike action. We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for our customers.
"This action means we will have to make significant changes to the normal timetable on every route, so please check your journey before travelling."
The strikes is affecting services across west and south west London including stations such Chiswick, Putney, Brentford, Wandsworth, Wimbledon and Kew Bridge.
There is a dedicated section on the SWR web site which gives the latest information on services during the strike.
On the Hounslow Loop the revised timetable suggests they aim to run a half hourly service from 8am to 8pm with trains every hour outside that time.
Extra trains are being laid on for events which are taking place during the strike such as Royal Ascot, Hampton Court Palace music festival concerts (Tuesday to Saturday) and the Metallica concert at Twickenham.
The disruption represents a resumption of the dispute which appeared to have been resolved earlier this year when the union suspended industrial action after receiving written assurances over the rolling out of driver only operation.
Protracted talks have subsequently failed to finally resolve the issue. The union says that the train company pledged that “each passenger train shall operate with a guard with safety critical competencies” but now says that they are rolling back on that guarantee.
Talks with ACAS were due to resume on 17 June, the day before the planned strikes.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “Our members are angry and frustrated that despite suspending action in good faith, and entering into talks in a positive and constructive manner, South Western Railway have dragged their heels and failed to bolt down an agreement that matches up top our expectations on the guard guarantee.
“For more than three months we have sought to negotiate a conclusion to this dispute and it is wholly down to the management side that the core issue of the safety critical competencies and the role of the guard has not been signed off. It is because of that crucial failure by SWR that we have had no option but to lift the suspension and move back into strike action.”
SWR says it remains committed to keeping a guard on every train and they are calling for the RMT to call off the industrial action so that planned ACAS talks can go ahead.
June 19, 2019