The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have today (Wednesday 13th November) confirmed that strike action is to go ahead this weekend on West Midlands Trains.
Strike action is planned for every Saturday through to the end of December, affecting travel during the busy festive period.
The move will see members take industrial action on Saturdays throughout November and December and comes after the RMT claim West Midlands Trains planned to: “[…] bulldoze through Driver Only Operation and rip apart the safety critical role of the guard at the platform/train interface […]”
The union has instructed West Midlands Trains Senior Conductor, Senior Conductor Instructor and Train Driver members on all West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway services not to work on Saturdays from 16th November until 28th December.
“We will not allow the drive for profit to override the core issue of safe and accessible services for all on West Midlands Trains and we stand firm on that very basic principle. We will never compromise on the issues of passenger safety and accessibility.
“The union remains available for talks.”
A spokesperson for West Midlands Trains said: “We are very disappointed that Saturday’s action by the RMT is going ahead. A strike benefits nobody and will inconvenience businesses and thousands of local rail users.
“There is no need for this action, we have never proposed driver only operation (DOO). We are committed to keeping a safety-critical conductor on every passenger train.”
“In recent days, we proposed a solution which meets the latest demands from RMT, in respect of our new trains when they are delivered. The solution means conductors retain responsibility for safe train despatch from stations.
“We remain determined to find a way of resolving this dispute without further disruption and inconvenience for our passengers. We are running a reduced service on Saturday using managers who have guard competency. Passengers are advised to check their journey carefully before leaving home.”
Keeping people moving
Transport bosses have been working with bus, Metro and rail operators on plans to minimise the impact on weekend travellers and keep the region moving in the run up to Christmas.
On days when industrial action is taking place, the Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) Regional Transport Coordination Centre will be in operation to provide oversight of bus, Metro and train services. The Centre will also monitor the road network during the action.
Anne Shaw, Director for Network Resilience at Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) said: “We’ve been working closely with train and bus companies and our Metro team to understand how we can keep people moving while there is a reduced service on WMR and LNR.
“Services will be especially busy as we get closer to Christmas but plan ahead, stick to public transport wherever possible and leave more time for your journeys and you will still be able to enjoy the festive period.”
WMR and LNR will be running a less frequent service than usual on strike days with a reduced number of trains per hour and not all stops being served.
During the disruption West Midland Metro will accept WMR and LNR tickets on all services and will run additional trams on Saturday 23 November to make sure West Bromwich Albion fans can reach their home game against Sheffield Wednesday on time.
nNetwork ticket holders will be able to travel on any train and bus in the West Midlands during this time.
Virgin, Cross Country, Chiltern and Transport for Wales services are due to run a Saturday service as planned but are expected to be busier than normal, as people make their way to and from Christmas markets across the region.
Travel advice from TfWM
- Plan ahead: Check your journey now and again the day before you travel as timetables may change at the last minute.
- Leave more time for journeys: trains will be busier than usual. Don’t aim for the last train home, get there early and expect to queue.
- Consider your options: The West Midlands Metro is a good alternative to train if you are travelling between Wolverhampton and Birmingham.