By Connor Steel
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY (SWR) have warned that Fareham and Portchester train stations may not be served by the operator for three days this week as pending strike action looks set to cause more nationwide disruption; the train company urging people to avoid travelling by rail during the week between November 5 to 10 and confirming their heavily limited timetable for the upcoming three ‘strike’ days starting on Saturday.
It comes after another wave of industrial action was announced recently by the RMT unions in their ongoing row about pay and conditions; Network Rail joining over two thousand SWR members in striking across the days of November, 5, November 7, and further again on November 9. This follows similar actions held every month since June, with twenty four hour strikes held throughout the summer, causing widespread problems.
In preparation for the latest round of action SWR have announced their ‘strike day’ timetables for November 5, 7 and 9; where only four train routes will run from :15am to 6:30pm. These include four per hour between (London) Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside and Waterloo to Woking; whilst semi-fast trains will run per hour between Waterloo to Basingstoke and Waterloo to Southampton Central throughout the 3 above days.
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 under the current list published 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 run on the days between each 24 hour strike; when the network is not set to be operational before 7:30am on November 6, 8, and 10. With this in mind all local drivers have been warned of increased traffic on the roads whilst Gosport Ferry and bus users can expect larger crowds using the services; particularly in peak daily hours as commuters attempt to use other potential alternatives.
During this period the Island line will run a standard daytime timetable where possible, but services may be affected by strike action on the mainland. It will however be suspended overnight for twelve hours between 7pm to 7am on November 7 / 8, which is when Electrical Control Room Operators (ECROs) from Eastleigh will join its fellow National Rail colleagues on the picket line. The route’s planned timetable is available here.
Not for the first time this strike action has been scheduled to potentially cause as much travel disruption as possible with many celebrations set to take place on November 5 to mark Guy Fawkes Night. Other events such as sports and theatre shows may be affected by smaller crowds, although train services are expected to return to normal in time for November 11; Remembrance Sunday likely to see veterans travel nationwide.
Performance and Planning Director for South Western Railway, Steve Tyler, commented within a brief online statement published late on Friday afternoon: “I’m sorry that due to strike action we must urge our customers to only travel by rail if absolutely necessary from Saturday 5 until Thursday 10 November. Large parts of our network will be closed on strike days and there will be a late start up (7:30am) on the (three) mornings after.”
He continued: “Those who must travel are urged to carefully check the times of first and last trains and avoid them if possible. We appreciate that customers will be eager to enjoy the fireworks for Guy Fawkes Night (on November 5), but last trains for the day will depart early at around 1700 and will be very busy. Please check train times carefully to avoid getting stranded as the network will be shut for the rest of the (whole) evening.”
Mr Tyler concluded by apologising to those potentially affected commuters as he said on SWR’s behalf: “We are sorry that strikes will again cause disruption and we are grateful to (all) our customers for the continuing cooperation, patience, & understanding as the industry works to end this damaging nationwide strike action.”
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 Saturday’s strike action by visiting: www.southwesternrailway.com/strike.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (T14CA9): A South Western Railway train travels in rural areas of North Hampshire.