Fresh rail strikes to bring more misery for Christmas commuters from TODAY

Fresh rail strikes to bring more misery for Christmas commuters from TODAY

Rail workers on some of the busiest routes in the country will stage a fresh strike today.  Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on

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Rail workers on some of the busiest routes in the country will stage a fresh strike today. 

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on South Western Railway will walk out for 24 hours, with further action planned on New Year’s Eve.

This is the latest strike in a long-running dispute over guards on trains, causing more travel misery for passengers. 

Workers on South Western Railway are to stage two fresh strikes, on December 27 and 3. Stock picture shows a South Western Railway train

Workers on South Western Railway are to stage two fresh strikes, on December 27 and 3. Stock picture shows a South Western Railway train

Workers on South Western Railway are to stage two fresh strikes, on December 27 and 3. Stock picture shows a South Western Railway train

Passengers have already endured a year of misery with train punctuality slumping to a 13-year low after strikes, poor weather, signalling problems and timetable chaos plagued the network.

One in seven trains failed to meet punctuality targets, according to regulators at the Office of Rail and Road.

Picket lines will be mounted outside stations, including London Waterloo.

The union claimed the cost to the taxpayer of the Government ‘bailing out’ South Western on strike days will be more than £26 million by New Year’s Eve.

The union said that prior to his resignation as Rail Minister Jo Johnson admitted to MPs that South Western had made an application to be reimbursed for revenues lost as a result of industrial action.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Official parliamentary answers have shown that the government is preparing to bail out South Western Railway for revenues lost as a result of strike action.

‘Passengers will be outraged to know that instead of taking steps to resolve this dispute rail ministers are instead prolonging it by using tax payers’ money to prop up South Western Railway on strike days.

‘Thanks to the generosity of the government, South Western don’t lose a penny from strikes and therefore have little incentive to negotiate seriously.’ 

The damning ORR figures released today show that almost 15 per cent of trains this year missed the industry’s standard measure of punctuality – arrival within five minutes of the scheduled time, or ten minutes for a long-distance service. This is the worst annual rolling average since September 2005.

Anthony Smith, of the passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘With rail fares set to rise yet again, passengers will be looking to the rail industry to deliver a more reliable, better value for money service in 2019.’ The cost of many rail season tickets will increase by more than £100 next week as average fares go up 3.1 per cent.

Dozens of rail passengers will be affected by the walkouts

Dozens of rail passengers will be affected by the walkouts

Dozens of rail passengers will be affected by the walkouts

Robert Nisbet, of the Rail Delivery Group, which speaks for the industry, said: ‘Every minute counts for our customers and we are sorry when trains don’t run on time.

‘We have one of the most congested railways in Europe, which means incidents like the summer heatwave and disruption caused by new timetables have a bigger impact. Working together, the rail industry is learning the lessons from May while also delivering unprecedented investment to increase capacity and ease pressure on the busiest parts of the railway.’

Just five out of 26 operators ran services yesterday, all in the South East and on a limited schedule.

Several operators have used the festive period to carry out engineering work despite a full programme of football fixtures and the start of the sales. 

How the union fat cats rake it in

Mike Cash 

General Secretary £153,614

His latest salary package at the Rail, Maritime and Transport union includes a car benefit of £3,883 and a season ticket of £2,989. His gross salary is £99,958 with pension contributions of £33,935 and national insurance of £12,849. This is a rise of £3,938 on 2016, when his salary was £149,676.

Mick Lynch

Assistant General Secretary £108,740

Mr Lynch’s package includes a gross salary of £77,810 with national insurance contributions coming to £9,972, pension contributions of £19,410 and a season ticket of £1,548. This is an increase of £3,220 on the previous year of 2016 when he pocketed £105,520.

Steve Hedley

Senior Assistant General Sec £87,769

Mr Hedley picked up a car benefit of £2,947 and a season ticket of £2,408 in 2017. His gross salary was £56,299, with national insurance contributions of £7,003. Pension contributions came to £19,112. His total remuneration of £87,769 was up £2,606 on the previous year.

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