By Connor Steel
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY (SWR) have confirmed their reduced timetables that will come into effect on July 27 as it prepares for industrial action across the rail network from the National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT); with Fareham and Portchester stations not scheduled to be served throughout the day as the provider struggles to balance striking staff numbers with a pressing demand at its busiest period.
It comes as Network Rail confirmed strike action would begin at midnight next Wednesday and last for a total of twenty-four hours, with their staff being joined at the picket line by 2,100+ RMT union members. This will be the second round of industrial action after three days of disruption back in June; with commuters asked to work from home, avoid unnecessary travel and find alternative ways to get to their destinations if essential.
Reiterating this advice SWR have published their timetable for Wednesday which will run between 7:15am and 6:30pm across just four routes in both directions, which are similar to those seen back in June. These include (London) Waterloo to Windsor via Hounslow and Waterloo to Woking; whilst semi-fast trains will run per hour between Waterloo to Basingstoke and Waterloo to Southampton Central throughout the whole 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 won’t 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.
Disruption is also likely throughout Thursday 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 return to their normal routines following Wednesday’s industrial action, although it is expected to ease back to normal throughout the working day and into Friday morning.
South Western Railway’s Managing Director, Claire Mann, gave their thoughts in a short online statement as she said: “The scale of the planned industrial action limits the number of trains we can run and routes we can serve, resulting in the severely reduced service we are able to operate on the strike day (Wednesday).”
She continued to offer advice and sympathy to the company customers: “We urge customers to only travel by rail if absolutely necessary on Wednesday 27 July, and to check before you travel on Thursday 28 July, as we will be running a late-starting service due to the disruption of the strike the previous day. We are sorry that strikes will again cause disruption, and we are grateful to our customers for their continued cooperation, patience, and understanding as the rail industry works to end this damaging nationwide strike action.”
And although no timetables or updates from SWR have been released at the time of writing, it appears that RMT members will strike for the third time over two days (August 18 and 20). Other sectors such as Royal Mail and exam board members are also set to undertake action next month alongside train staff; as they continue their fight for a better pay and conditions alongside job security after the three Covid-19 lockdowns.
Readers can plan their journeys on the train network by visiting the SWR link here and find more information on the stations affected by strike action on July 27 by visiting: www.southwesternrailway.com/strike.
PICTURED (TOP): Official South Western Railway logo on blue background (reproduced with permission)