By Connor Steel
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY (SWR) have urged their commuters to avoid non-essential travel on their train networks this week as providers prepare for yet another wave of industrial action from the RMT trade union; with severe disruption likely for all customers from Fareham and Portchester stations for a period of six days.
This planned round of action follows a breakdown in recent communications with Government staff; the RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch announcing that a majority of members will strike from midnight on January 3 and finish five days later at midnight on January 8. This will follow the conclusion of an overtime ban finishing on January 2 and is not currently planned to follow previous strike, which has often been broken in two parts.
Strike action has been planned to cause maximum disruption in the New Year as workers return to the office after the festive periods, whilst students and families will further see issues when travelling. It will also affect Portsmouth FC supporters as they travel to Tottenham Hotspur for a FA Cup 3rd Round clash on January 7.
With this information in mind, SWR have published their timetable for the five above strike days which will be running between 7:15am and 6:30pm across four separate routes in both directions. These include (London) Waterloo to terminate at Windsor & Eton Riverside and Waterloo to Woking; whilst 2 semi-fast routes will run per hour between Waterloo to Basingstoke and also Waterloo to Southampton Central across each direction.
SWR have been able to run these services due to Network Rail providing contingency cover for critical roles such as response teams, control room operators, maintenance teams, and signallers; but will not be able to cover the whole time or full network safely. Unfortunately trains will not be able to stop at all stations on the four routes, whilst no SWR services will run across the remainder of the network covering the South region.
This means that both Fareham and Portchester stations will not see any train services from this rail provider on all 5 days under the current list on the SWR website. It is not known whether the two stations will remain open to the public during the days as fellow train company Southern haven’t yet released a strike timetable.
Significant disruption is further expected to continue into January 8 (Sunday), when the network is not due to be operational before 7:30am and will immediately follow a weekend service level. With this in mind drivers have been warned of increased traffic on the roads whilst Gosport Ferry and buses can expect larger crowds using the services; particularly in peak daily hours as commuters attempt to use other potential alternatives.
If action goes ahead as planned this month it will mean that RMT have held strikes for 18 days since June in their ongoing row over pay and conditions. This number doesn’t include the six days of strike action planned across September and November combined, which were cancelled at short notice due to different reasoning.
Readers can plan their journeys on the train network by visiting the SWR link here and find more information on the national stations affected by the coming strike action by visiting: www.southwesternrailway.com/strike.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (FYHTB6): Stationary trains stand on adjacent platforms as passenger walks nearby.