By Connor Steel
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY (SWR) have urged their commuters to avoid non-essential travel on their train networks this weekend as providers prepare for yet another wave of industrial action from two major trade unions; with severe disruption likely for all customers from Fareham and Portchester stations over 48 hours.
RMT and TSSA have announced a twenty-four hour strike from midnight on October 1 in their ongoing row that began earlier this year, this action being the first since August due to the Queen’s passing. As a result large portions of the network will be shut entirely, whilst it coincides with engineering work that is scheduled to close all stations between Windsor and Feltham throughout the day on Saturday under safety measures.
With this information in mind SWR have published their timetable for Saturday which will be running between 7:15am and 6:30pm across just four routes in both directions, which are very similar to previous strike days. These include (London) Waterloo to terminate at Feltham and Waterloo to Woking; whilst semi-fast trains will run per hour between Waterloo to Basingstoke and Waterloo to Southampton Central throughout the day.
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 day 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 Saturday 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.
Disruption is also likely throughout Sunday as stations and trains will start later than normal after the strike action, with customers advised to check their planned routes for updated information before travelling. The first trains will also likely be busy as people commute to the London Marathon following Saturday’s industrial action, although it is expected to ease back to a normal schedule throughout the day and Monday morning.
In related news it has been confirmed that SWR drivers are not set to join the planned ASLEF strike action, due to take place on October 1 (Saturday) and October 5 (Wednesday). However, customers should check before they travel, as their connections with other operators might be impacted, or not run at all throughout.
South Western Railway’s Performance and Planning Director, Steve Tyler, said online earlier this week: “I’m sorry that due to strike action we must urge our customers to only travel if absolutely necessary on Saturday 1 October and Sunday 2 October. Those needing to travel (via train) should seek to do so by other means.”
He continued to offer advice and sympathy to their customers affected by further strike action: “Large parts of our network will be closed on the strike day and there will be a late start up on the morning after. Those who must travel are urged to carefully check the times of first and last trains and avoid them if possible as they are likely to be very busy. We are grateful to our customers for their continued cooperation, patience, and understanding as the rail industry works to bring this damaging nationwide (industrial) action to an end.”
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 (2A8R28M): Name and logo on a stationary South Western Railway train carriage.