Dispute drags on as South Western Railway and RMT trade accusations
South Western Railway has accused the RMT union of playing politics, as industrial action continues to blight its network.
The union has countered by saying that it is fighting for safety and accessibility on SWR’s trains. It also contends that SWR claimed £26 million to reimburse revenue lost through industrial action, saying this could have been used to cut fares by 2.5%.
An SWR spokesman said on December 31 (one of the strike days): “The RMT continues to play politics with their ongoing strike action, causing misery at a time when people just want to be with friends and family to celebrate the New Year. If the union really cares about passengers it should call off these strikes and start helping to build a better railway.
“We have guaranteed to roster a guard on every train - we are employing more, not fewer, guards. We remain focused on running services and delivering the improvements our customers deserve, including investing £1.2 billion over the course of the franchise.”
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.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Government, South Western doesn’t lose a penny from strikes and therefore has little incentive to negotiate seriously.
“We estimate that the cost to date of this strike bail out is over £26m, enough to fund a 2019 fare cut for all South Western passengers.”