UK News: Furious commuters demand a REFUND from South Western Railway chiefs on second day of month-long rail strike - as unions call for talks to end chaos - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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UK News Furious commuters demand a REFUND from South Western Railway chiefs on second day of month-long rail strike - as unions call for talks to end chaos

17:15  03 december  2019
17:15  03 december  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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HUNDREDS of thousands of rail commuters are beginning a month of travel hell this morning as union barons launch the longest strike in the history Members of the Rail , Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on South Western Railway (SWR) have walked out on the first of 27 days of industrial

Great Western Railway , Heathrow Express and TfL Rail services will also be affected by rail chaos as London Paddington closes between December Passengers face a month of hell on Britain's trains as South Western Railways start a strike today. We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The

Rail passengers complained of 'ridiculous overcrowding' and delayed trains today as hundreds of thousands faced a second day of disruption due to strike action.

Commuters endured the second of 27 planned days of mayhem as South Western Railway had to cancel 850 trains across swathes of London and southern England.

The unprecedented action is part of the Labour-backed Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union's long-running dispute over the role of guards on driver-only trains.

Fed-up passengers demanded a refund from SWR bosses, claiming the strike-hit service this month is 'not fit for a modern country' and is making them late for work.

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South Western Railway strike - live updates. The first of 27 days of strikes by the RMT union over the role of guards on trains came on a morning of freezing temperatures, while technical problems Talks to resolve the long -running row about the future role of guards on trains broke down on Friday.

Media captionSouthampton rail commuters speak out on first day of strike . Commuters are facing disruption as workers on South Western Railway (SWR) begin a The operator called the action "unnecessary" and said "more than half" of weekday trains would run, but warned of queues at stations.

A signal failure between Fulwell and Shepperton caused further delays today with passengers told services may be cancelled, delayed or changed at short notice.

The strike by 900 guards has wrecked the travel plans of an estimated 600,000 passengers, costing businesses in the capital up to £400million in total.

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South Western Railway guards striking every day bar Christmas and Election day . A month of travel misery has begun for commuters this morning as they battle the first of a record-breaking 27- day strike . The action by the Rail , Maritime and Transport union (RMT) is already causing chaos for

Union leaders have called for fresh talks with rail bosses on the second day of strike action in a over train guards. The Rail , Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said its members on South Western Railway (SWR) were "standing firm" on the second of 27 planned strikes . On new trains due to start

Why the strike action is over the role of guards

Some 800 train guards are taking part in the 27 days of strike action on South Western Railway, which is being held over the threat of driver-only trains.

Guards claim drivers will be given sole responsibility for closing doors and dispatching a fleet of 90 new trains – a move intended to give the guards more time to deal with passengers.

SWR had promised to keep the guards on trains by moving them to customer-facing roles – but the RMT union says this poses a safety risk to passengers.

This is despite assurances from the rail watchdog that driver-only controls are safe.

Talks between the two sides collapsed last week, with the union and SWR blaming each other for the failure to reach a deal.

But the RMT has already agreed to a nearly identical change on the Greater Anglia network next year – as well as similar conditions on Crossrail in London when it finally opens in 2021.

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Members of the Rail , Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on South Western Railway (SWR) walked out on the first of 27 days of industrial action lasting until New The union remains available for talks and we have a deal to solve this dispute which is cost-free for SWR worked up and ready to go.

As South Western Railway workers hold 27 days of strikes over the month , rail chaos is certain to affect commuters and those travelling for the The dates of the strike are yet to be announced, but there are fears that the union could opt to cause the most chaos possible by targeting either the

But the RMT said its SWR members were 'standing firm' on the strikes, claiming it was 'frankly ludicrous for the company to simply jam their heads in the sand'.

Passenger Daniel Jenkins, of Woking, Surrey, tweeted: 'Where do I claim back my December month in my yearly season pass? Service is unsafe, unreliable and not fit for a modern country.'

And Daniel Chapman tweeted to SWR: 'Why am I paying for ticket when you have strike action on? I'm massively late for work so how do I get a refund please?'

Jamil Zakaria added: 'A month of reduced services due to strikes is a month of queuing in freezing weather. Not really acceptable.'

Last night, the Tories warned the strike was a 'taste of things to come' should Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister after next week's General Election.

The RMT, which has donated £130,700 to the Labour party since 2016, has helped to bankroll Mr Corbyn's leadership bid.

Meanwhile, Labour is pushing plans to make it easier for trade unions to take industrial action with a rollback of anti-strike laws.

The party has already promised to fulfil the RMT's demands by scrapping driver-only trains and putting a guard on every service in the country.

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Hundreds of thousands of commuters face a month of chaos as union barons launch the longest The unprecedented 27- day action will see 850 services cancelled every day on South Western Last month Labour vowed to fulfil the RMT’s demands by scrapping driver-only trains and putting a guard

The South Western Railway strike is the longest ever in British rail historyCredit: London News Pictures. The South Western Railway strike will affect a staggering 27 days of December Commuters hit back at today's strike on social media as they battled into work during rush hour.

As commuters faced another day of chaos, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Daily Mail: 'As a frustrated rail commuter myself, I want more trains to run on time.

How will YOUR journey be affected by strikes?

'December's strikes are just a taste of things to come if Labour win power on the 12th.'

He added: 'This is about politics pure and simple.

'The RMT leadership, who donate to Mr Corbyn, are trying to interfere with the election and are holding passengers to ransom who are just trying to get to work or home to kids.'

This SWR strikes, by guards who fear they will lose their jobs to driver-only trains, will not take place on Election Day on December 12, Christmas and Boxing Day.

SWR has drafted in 250 'contingency' guards, including staff who normally work in admin roles.

This has allowed it to run around 1,000 of its 1,850 weekday trains.

But the drastically reduced service yesterday saw passengers queue for an hour in the freezing cold before 'fighting' their way on to packed trains.

Others were locked out of over-crowded stations entirely or piled on to rail replacement buses.

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SOUTH Western Railway staff have today embarked on 27 days of strikes . Members of the Rail , Maritime and Transport union (RMT) walked out over South Western Railway 's failure to satisfy their request for a guard "The union remains available for talks and we have a deal to solve this dispute

As the month - long strike on South Western Railway begins, the boss of the train operator has told As part of a long-running dispute over the role of guards, they plan to walk out every day from 2 to 31 December, except for the day of the general election (12 December), Christmas Day and Boxing Day .

To add to the chaos, travellers said the number of carriages on key services had been reduced.

Jackie Hulme, 50, who works in consulting and pays £240 for a season pass, said: 'It was disastrous. For me, the worst thing is the cost of the tickets.

'It is so expensive and then you are packed like sardines. It is too awful for words.

'And to think we will experience that for the whole month is just shocking.'

Jo Castle, an IT worker at Network Rail, added: 'I just think RMT are bringing the public into their bun fight and it's not fair.

'I hate the fact RMT are holding us hostage.'

Clare Moriarty, of the Department for Exiting the European Union, tweeted: 'I cannot believe that on a strike day when there are only two trains from my station in the peak hour you have shortened train length by a third.

'Please have some thought for your passengers.'

As commuters battled to get to work, politicians and union chiefs blamed each other for the chaos.

Andy McDonald, Labour's transport spokesman, told LBC: 'Right across the country, those issues have been resolved to everybody's satisfaction.

'Putting those safety-critical guards on trains has happened everywhere.

'Yet South Western, who had an agreement with the trade union, have reneged on that agreement and we now find ourselves in that terrible situation.'

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: 'Our members are solidly supporting the second day of this phase of strike action and are standing firm the length and breadth of the franchise in defence of the role of the guard, accessibility and the safest method of train dispatch and operation.

Rail commuters are braced for Mayhem Monday as 27-day train strike that will hit 850 services begins

  Rail commuters are braced for Mayhem Monday as 27-day train strike that will hit 850 services begins The unprecedented 27-day action will see 850 services cancelled every day on South Western Railway (SWR), one of the UK's busiest operators. Pictured, crowds in June due to a previous strike.Hundreds of thousands of commuters face a month of chaos as union barons launch the longest strike in the history of British railways.

Rail commuters bemoan crowding as South Western begins month of strikes . Read more. The Liberal Democrat candidate Monica Harding, who is running against Dominic Raab in Esher and Walton, has called on the RMT and South Western Railway (SWR) to end the strike impasse.

Workers on South Western Railway have started their strike action today and commuters travelling from Southampton to Basingstoke in Hampshire this morning have mixed emotions. It comes after talks between the Rail , Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and SWR over a long -running dispute over

a close up of text on a white background © Provided by Daily Mail

'It is frankly ludicrous for the company to simply jam their heads in the sand rather than getting back round the table to get the same deal back on track that they pulled away from at the last minute in earlier negotiations.

'A deal is there to be done which would cost the company nothing and which would give the safety and accessibility guarantees at the platform/train interface that we have been seeking. SWR need to get out of the bunker and get back into talks.'

The company said it has given the union guarantees about having guards on its trains.

An SWR spokesman said: 'We are always open to talks if the RMT is ready to work with us to improve our service and develop a more visible, customer-focused role for guards.'

All aboard the 6.37 train from Guildford... back to the union hell of the 1970s: As railway workers launch a 27-day strike, ROBERT HARDMAN gets a taste of the misery with angry passengers on a packed train

As election bribes go, it was a belter: a whopping great bung. We are not talking about a few quid here and there over the next few years.

This one would amount to a four-figure sum for hundreds of thousands of people and several hundred quid for millions more.

The only problem for Jeremy Corbyn was that I could not find a single person at Waterloo Station last night who believed, for one minute, that an incoming Labour government would (or could) slash rail fares by a third – as Mr Corbyn declared yesterday.

'Pull the other one', 'Not a chance' and umpteen unprintable variations of the above were the instant response when I attempted to road-test Labour's latest election pledge during the evening rush hour at London's busiest station.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Commuters at Waterloo were ¿packed in like sardines¿ during the evening rush-hour yesterday © Provided by Daily Mail Commuters at Waterloo were ¿packed in like sardines¿ during the evening rush-hour yesterday

They had good reason to be sceptical, of course. Just hours earlier, Mr Corbyn's chums in the RMT transport union had begun their attempt at shutting down the entire South Western Railway (SWR) network.

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With commuters across south -west England facing an entire month of travel disruption, we’d like to hear your experiences. A month of strike action by South Western Railway (SWR) staff starts The union has taken action over a long -term dispute regarding the future presence of guards on all

Yesterday was Day One of what is scheduled to be the longest rail strike in living memory, one designed to make travelling in and out of Waterloo a misery for millions of people until the New Year.

Ostensibly, it is a row about SWR's plans to run a new fleet of trains on which drivers (average salary: £52,000) and not guards will operate the doors – as they already do on so many other lines. Given that Labour's proposed trade union reforms would rewind the clock to the 1970s – with a return to secondary picketing and open strike ballots – the rest of the country need only look at what is happening on SWR this week to enjoy a glimpse of life in a Corbyn Britain.

I decided to see for myself yesterday morning, setting out well before dawn with the well-wrapped commuters at one of SWR's main hubs. Guildford in Surrey offers multiple options for travellers heading for the capital, whether on the fast Portsmouth-London line or along the suburban routes up to Waterloo. It also straddles the East-West route from Gatwick to the Thames Valley.

Come 6.15am, shivering commuters were already queuing three-deep for a London service which had been slashed in half for the crucial peak periods and then slashed further still for the rest of the day. On top of that, SWR had elected to send out shorter-than-usual trains and many of these were suffering delays.

Those who would normally arrive in hope of a seat came merely hoping for a few square inches of standing space. Those who usually spend the entire journey on their feet anyway – and that goes for most travelling in standard class at peak times anywhere within 30 miles of London – were just hoping for a moderately ghastly morning rather than a total nightmare.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Protesters defend the striking workers outside Waterloo station in Central London yesterday © Provided by Daily Mail Protesters defend the striking workers outside Waterloo station in Central London yesterday

What struck me was their good humour. 'Don't forget it's only Day One. So it's only going to get worse,' said Hugh, a City worker who usually commutes from nearby Wanborough except that SWR has closed his station for the duration of the strike.

'I never get a seat at this time of day but that's the least of my worries today,' said Kelly, a Guildford regular bound for her desk in a Soho finance department.

The usual 6.27, 6.33 and 6.52 trains had been merged into a single 6.37 service. To make things worse, that arrived 12 minutes late. While Kelly joined the herd waiting to squeeze aboard, software executive Mark Finch was trying to get off, in the hope of a connection to Reading. He had arrived at his local station, Liphook in Hampshire, shortly after 6am. 'There were four times the usual number of people on the platform and it was minus two! What a joke!' he said.

What were his thoughts on the strike? 'It's just outrageous. They will have no sympathy whatsoever among commuters after this,' he said. Like many of those I talked to, he wondered why it was so important to retain guards on the trains, given that drivers on other lines have cheerfully dispensed with them in exchange for a pay hike.

At which point, I was asked to leave the station by a manager from SWR. Media were not allowed to speak to passengers without permission from head office (a formal request was then declined on grounds of health and safety). Armed with a valid ticket, I hopped on to the 7.07 London-bound service, another sardine can, which had started its journey in Portsmouth.

I found myself squeezed through a door and into the aisle of a first class section. Even here, all the seats had gone by the time the train had left Petersfield in Hampshire. Any first class season ticket holders jumping on at a later stop like Haslemere (where an annual first class season ticket costs over £7,000) would surely be pretty miffed.

Even those who did have first class seats were fed up, pointing out that they are unlikely to receive any compensation. 'I pay £8,000 a year for this seat and I am going to have to stay in London for most of the week anyway,' said Henry, a Petersfield regular heading for an office in St James's.

He had already heard weekend reports of Labour's proposed policy on rail fares, a scheme which would save him more than £2,000 a year. So, come election day, might he be swayed towards the Tories by the strike or towards Labour by the promise of a cheaper season ticket? 'I quite like the idea of a benevolent dictatorship,' he joked.

As we crawled in to Woking, I decided to extract myself from the train and assess the state of play here at the home of Britain's most famous branch of Pizza Express.

a group of people standing on a sidewalk: Delays: Queues snake around Earlsfield Station in South West London yesterday morning © Provided by Daily Mail Delays: Queues snake around Earlsfield Station in South West London yesterday morning

Woking is a major hub for trains from the South, the South West and the suburbs. Here, it must be said, the regular through-flow seemed to be working.

While some trains were at full capacity, passengers only had to wait a few moments to have another go. At 07.59, a London train was spilling out at the seams. Just one minute later, however, I joined a semi-fast service via Surbiton.

There I got off to find more packed platforms and a lot of people crammed inside the cosy fug of Caffe Nero waiting to dash out into the cold at the last minute to try their luck. Back on board another train, a rammed 08.27 slow coach to Waterloo, it was interesting to see hundreds of passengers tumble out as soon as the train reached the outer reaches of the Underground network at stops like Wimbledon and Clapham Junction.

By 9.15 I had reached Waterloo without witnessing fisticuffs or raised voices. Outside, a small picket by RMT strikers attracted the odd barbed remark but was largely ignored. I chatted to one group of striking drivers and guards who assured me that the strike was entirely about passenger safety and nothing to do with money. 'And it's going to cost us a lot of money in lost wages at a difficult time of year,' explained one, declining to give me his name on the (not unreasonable) grounds that SWR could fire him for talking to the Press.

Last night, most homebound commuters were pointing the blame at the union bosses rather than the infantry. 'The strikers might lose some of their wages but it won't cost the union barons a penny of their £160,000 salary,' said Julia, a civil servant, steeling herself for a slow slog back to Ascot having endured a 's***' journey up at dawn.

For now, the London commuter remains a model of restraint. Yesterday, I noticed several commuters going to the trouble of thanking those SWR staff who had turned up for work. It was a sentiment echoed by Jeremy Varns, campaigns director of SWR Watch, a group lobbying for better services across the network. 'A difficult decision for some,' he tweeted to the strike-busters, 'but collectively your efforts will help to ensure hundreds of thousands of passengers get to where they need to be.'

But for how much longer? And how will that sort of behaviour go down if Jeremy Corbyn's commissars are calling the shots come December 13?

Read more

Heavy rain batters parts of the UK, with more on the way .
Wattisham near Stowmarket in Suffolk saw 32.2mm of rain fall in just 24 hours.A total of 32.2mm (1.27in) of rain pummelled the parish of Wattisham near Stowmarket in Suffolk in the 24 hours to 6am on Wednesday, the Met Office said – the highest volume of rainfall anywhere in the UK during that time.

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