By Connor Steel
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY (SWR) have urged their commuters to avoid non-essential travel on their train networks next 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 December 13 for 48 hours. Another strike will then begin from December 16 and finish at midnight next Sunday (18/12).
With this information in mind SWR have published their timetable for the four above strike days which will be running between 7:30am 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 trains 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 4 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 run on the days between each 24 hour strike; when the network is not set to be operational before 7:30am on December 15 and 18. 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.
Commuters are likely to be disrupted further over the festive period as a separate third round of strikes have been confirmed to begin from Christmas Eve, running until December 27 (Tuesday). This joins the industrial action already planned for January 3 and 4 next year, with SWR advice and timetables yet to be announced.
If action goes ahead as planned this month it will mean that RMT have held strikes for 13 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 (RR183F): SWR train sits stationary in night-fall at a quiet London Waterloo station.