By Connor Steel
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAYS (SWR) have asked commuters to avoid unnecessary travel and furthermore confirmed a special timetable effective for later this week, with train providers preparing for more significant disruption caused by ongoing strike action on the region’s public transport networks from Thursday morning.
It comes as National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT) members will strike again for a total of 24 hours throughout both Thursday (August 18) and Saturday (August 20) to join similar actions from June / July; citing job security, pay and conditions as key stumbling blocks in their package talks with Government.
Significant disruption will be seen across the country with large swatches of the railway network scheduled to be closed for transport, including selected amounts of freight services. This is because Network Rail will only be able to provide limited contingency cover for critical safety / function based roles such as electrical control room operators, signallers, maintenance, and emergency response teams for certain periods during the day.
As a result commuters have been asked to avoid non-essential train travel on Thursday and Saturday, whilst disruption is likely on Friday (August 19) and Sunday (August 21) where first trains will run later than normal; as well as the likelihood of larger crowds as people commute for weekends away or mass sporting events.
And this advice was backed up by the Commercial Director of Southern Western Railways, Peter Williams, who said in a press release published earlier this week: “Please only travel if absolutely necessary between Thursday 18 and Sunday 21 August as strike action will severely impact our services. Those who must travel are urged to carefully check the times of first and last trains and seek alternative means of travel.”
He continued to say: “The scale of the action will be incredibly disruptive for our customers with large parts of our network closed on strike days and a late start up on the morning after each strike day. First trains will run much later than usual and are likely to be very busy, so please travel later in the day if you can (do so).”
And offering heartfelt apologies to those affected Mr Williams concluded by adding: “We are sorry that strikes will again cause such disruption. We are grateful to our customers for their continued cooperation, patience, and understanding as the rail industry works to bring this damaging nationwide strike action to an end.”
But despite the strikes SWR have been working hard to ensure that four routes will operate on Thursday and Saturday across their network, allowing an option to those who are travelling for essential reasons. However they will only run between the hours of 7:15am and 6:30pm with last routes running from approximately 5pm.
Rail services will run between (London) Waterloo and Windsor via Hounslow alongside the line running from Waterloo and Woking; both seeing four trains running hourly in both directions. Two semi-fast services will run per hour between Waterloo and Basingstoke in each direction, whilst the final route will see trains using the line running from Waterloo and Southampton Central throughout these two days again in each direction.
These four routes are subject to change however at short notice due to striking workers or sickness, whilst trains will not be able to stop at all stations on the lines. Commuters are asked to check before travelling to avoid any unnecessary journeys, although the Island Line Services (Isle of Wight) aren’t due to be affected.
No other SWR services will run across the region across the ‘strike days’, meaning that both Fareham and Portchester stations won’t see any services from this rail provider as they are not on the ‘list’ published on their website. It is not known whether the two stations will remain open to the public during the two days as fellow train company Southern haven’t yet released their ‘strike’ timetables at the time of writing (Tuesday).
For more information commuters are asked to check the SWR website or check notice boards available at various stations, whilst members of staff will be able to answer any other questions throughout Wednesday.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (MFY3P6): SWR staff member exits Portsmouth Harbour train station with two trains sitting at adjacent platforms with little crowds in the vicinity (photo licence purchased on August 16, 2022).