Unmerry Christmas: SWR strike to go ahead


Hopes of a Christmas miracle have been dashed as rail and union bosses in the south west have failed to come to an agreement and a near-month long strike is set to go ahead.

The strike action on SWR services begins on Monday 2 December and is set to take place throughout December. (Click on the image or link below to see the reduced service map)


SWR and bosses fell out of Acas mediation talks today with both sides blaming the other for the industrial action. 

The rail company has provided an information page on its website detailing the reduced service. Click for more.

It has detailed reduced services on Monday – Friday between 2 and 23 December but is still working on filling in the gaps on the weekends and Christmas and new year.

The timetable restructions include:

  • SWR expect to run more than half of our normal Monday to Friday services, prioritising capacity during peak periods, with the same level of peak services as in previous strikes
  • Although industrial action will not take place on 12 December, the amended timetable will still be in place.
  • Peak services will be much busier than normal and there may be queuing at a number of our busiest stations
  • Services will finish earlier than normal at around 23:00
  • Off-peak frequencies may be reduced
  • Buses will replace trains on some routes, with ticket acceptance with other operators on others
  • There is route map to make it easier to see how your route will be affected
  • The week of Christmas itself (w/b 23 December) is likely to have a different timetable with services finishing earlier, and as is always the case no trains run on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

A spokesperson for the rail operating company said: 'We have done everything we can and more to meet the RMT’s outdated demands with our promise of a guard on every train, and a safety critical role for that guard.

'What we are not prepared to compromise on is the much needed modernisation of the service with improved performance, safety and customer service that our new fleet of modern suburban trains will vitally deliver for customers. We know our passengers will welcome over 10 million more passenger journeys a year arriving on time and this much needed improvement to our service is too important to compromise.'

'Throughout negotiations we have tried repeatedly to find ways meet the RMT’s aspirations. However, every time we find a way forward on one point the union has moved the goalposts by changing its position.'

The RMT union argued that the sticking point was the specific safety critical role of the guard in helping the train leave the platform rather than a guarantee of 'a safety critical role'.

It had set out proposals ensuring that the guard 'had an integral and guaranteed role in the despatch process which would have cost the company nothing but which would have guaranteed the safest method of operation'.

It accused SWR of failing to engage with its proposals.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: 'RMT is angry and frustrated that a set of proposals that would have guaranteed the safety-critical role of the guard at the point of despatch, and which would have cost the company absolutely nothing, have been kicked back in our faces.

'The union also believes that cutting the guard out of the despatch process reduces the second person on the train to little more than a passenger in the longer term, which would give the company the option of axing them all together at some point down the line. Both the union and the travelling public are being set up and that stinks.

'The union remains available for talks and we have a deal to solve this dispute which is cost free for SWR worked up and ready to go. The company should grab it with both hands and avoid the disruption to services their actions will unleash.'

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