Underground strike ++ Members of the RMT are joining ASLEF in a 24-hour strike on 15 March, which is Budget day. The unions are in dispute with Transport for London over jobs, pensions and contracts. The RMT said that staff ‘deserve decent pensions, job security and good working conditions’, but TfL denied that pension changes were on the table, adding that ‘We want to make London Underground a better place to work so we urge ASLEF and the RMT to call off this damaging strike’. Most train operators on the Underground are members of ASLEF, while RMT’s membership includes station staff.
Freight trains ++ Rail Partners, which lobbies on behalf of the private sector, has unveiled new research into the prospects for freight on trains. The group says if the government sets an ‘ambitious’ target to treble the amount of rail freight by 2050, the economic benefits would be almost £5.2 billion a year and replace 20 million lorry journeys annually. Rail Partners, whose members include the five largest freight operators, is quoting conclusions by the environmental data analysis consultants Aether, the Logistics Institute at the University of Hull and Railfreight Consulting.
Eastern promise ++ Rail investment in the East is not keeping pace with the economic, social and environmental needs of the region according the regional partnership Transport East. It has published a report, ‘State of Rail in the East’, which highlights poor connections, particularly between Norwich and Ipswich, and Cambridge and Peterborough. It adds that trains are slow, compared with services on other main lines, leading to longer journeys. Frequencies are also poor, especially on local lines serving smaller communities, and to Stansted Airport.
Rail degrees ++ Aston University is inviting former students to get in touch to help it to celebrate 50 years of transport education. Transport studies at Aston began in 1973, when the subject appeared as part of a combined honours degree course. The first transport students graduated in 1976. In 1982 the course became a degree in its own right and 40 years later the university is still teaching the transport professionals of the future.