SOUTH Western Railway is bringing a summer of travel misery for commuters as staff go on a series of strikes with industrial action due to last until early September.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are taking industrial action over a dispute regarding the future of guards on trains. Here’s more information about when the next strike is due…
When is the South Western Railway industrial action scheduled for?
The industrial action kicked off on July 26, in the first of eight weeks of travel misery for rail users.
Action will apply across the network and impact journeys into London terminating at Waterloo, Victoria, Clapham Junction, Wimbledon and Richmond stations.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out for 24 hours on September 2, 8 and 15, on top of a 48-hour stoppage from August 31.
What routes are affected and how can I travel?
Rail replacement bus services will operate during weekday strike days between:
- Exeter St Davids and Yeovil Junction (Crewkerne, Feniton, Whimple, Cranbrook and Pinhoe will not be served)
- Virginia Water and Weybridge
- Guildford and Ascot
The following routes will not be served by South Western Railway during weekday strike days:
- Leatherhead to Dorking – use Southern services
- Salisbury to Bristol – use Great Western Railway (GWR) services
- Westbury to Yeovil Junction via Frome – use GWR services
- Surbiton to Hampton Court – use Transport for London (TfL) buses from Kingston
- Teddington to Shepperton – use TfL buses. Local buses may be available but SWR tickets will not be valid on these services
- Berrylands Station – use TfL buses. Crewkerne, Feniton, Whimple, Cranbrook and Pinhoe will not be served. Local buses may be available, but SWR tickets will not be valid on these services
Are tickets valid with other rail and bus operators?
On strike days, passengers can use their ticket on the following train operators at no extra cost:
- Between Bristol Temple Meads and Salisbury
- Westbury and Yeovil Pen Mill
Southern Rail routes:
- To and from Dorking to Clapham Junction, including London Victoria (not available for advance purchase tickets)
Tickets will also be accepted on the following Transport for London bus routes:
Why did the RMT union call for industrial action?
The RMT union, which represents guards and drivers, called for the strikes over plans to remove staff from trains, which would then become driver-only-operated (DOO).
Unions have said the move could potentially make trains more dangerous because no one will be keeping an eye on people getting on and off trains as well as keeping passengers safe during their journeys.
However, the Office of Road and Rail has insisted the trains will be safe so long as the right equipment and training is provided.
SWR said: “We would like to make it completely clear that we will continue to roster a guard on all our trains – including our new suburban fleet to be introduced from late 2019, and that our future plans require more, not less guards.
“We will continue to provide as many additional services as possible on RMT strike days and thank all those employees who have helped keep our passengers moving despite the RMT action.”
RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said: “RMT has continued to work hard to reach a negotiated settlement in the South Western Railway guards’ safety dispute and after a flurry of correspondence with the company this week our Executive has agreed to suspend this weekend’s (August 11) strike action to allow for further talks on the specific issue of the guard guarantee.
“The rest of our planned action remains on and the union remains committed to negotiating a settlement with SWR in line with other recent agreements with train operators that protects safety, security and access to services.”
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An SWR spokesman said: “We are pleased for our passengers that this strike has been called off to allow further talks to take place.
“This means we will be running a full Saturday timetable on 11 August.”