TRAIN services in several parts of England are being disrupted by industrial action today.
The RMT is staging three separate strikes in the continuing disputes over driver-controlled operation, while an indefinite ban on overtime and rest day working by ASLEF drivers is continuing on Southern.
Northern said it used hundreds of rail replacement buses over the weekend during the first two days of a three-day RMT walkout, and that more than 40 per cent of its trains continued to run. There will be no trains after 19.00 today.
Regional director Sharon Keith said: “It has been a challenging and busy weekend, but by the close of business this evening we had been able to run more than 1,400 rail services.”
She warned that today’s timetables will also be reduced, adding that “we expect all services to be extremely busy, particularly at peak times”.
Merseyrail is affected by an RMT strike over DCO today, and a second walkout is planned for 23 July. Merseyrail managing director Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde said: “The team has put together the best possible timetable that we can to provide a limited train service on both strike days.”
Govia Thameslink Railway said the RMT action on the Southern network today was not expected to affect services. The operator will continue to rely on its list of ‘exceptional circumstances’ to run trains without a second member of staff on board, and these circumstances include industrial action. Such a list is bitterly opposed by the RMT in particular, which has called on Southern to suspend the exceptions for six months, without success.
However, ASLEF’s overtime ban is continuing to reduce Southern services by about a quarter.
The RMT claims that proposals for more DCO are part of a ‘wider attack on rail services’ and that it is concerned about a threat to safety, although operators and the Department for Transport continue to maintain that more DCO is justified and does not pose a risk.
The clock is also ticking at the Department for Transport, because transport secretary Chris Grayling must reveal by Thursday whether the DfT will penalise Govia Thameslink Railway for breaches of performance targets. A High Court judge has ordered the DfT to publish a decision by 13 July, after more than a year of negotiations behind the scenes. The ruling came as part of a case brought by the Association of British Commuters, which had also wanted the court to order a judicial review of who was responsible on the grounds that poor performance had reduced accessibility. The judge refused to order such a review, and said the ABC must pay two-thirds of the DfT’s costs.
Govia Thameslink Railway has maintained that its failure to reach performance targets had been caused by circumstances beyond its control, including industrial action.