Related News

Home » World

London commuters face chaos as rail strikes loom

RAIL unions warned that commuter lines into London would be crippled if workers at firms operating services across southern England agree this week to go on strike in protest at job cuts.

Train operators are planning to cut hundreds of jobs across Britain, arguing that the recession would cause slower rail growth and a reduction in revenue.

Unions have vowed to fight the plans and are balloting members for industrial action because employers have not ruled out making compulsory redundancies.

Ballots at four franchises running trains into London -- Stagecoach Plc's South West Trains, National Express's East Anglia Line, First Group's First Capital Connect and London Overground -- conclude on Tuesday.

The Rail Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union is confident that staff will support industrial action and said it would coordinate any strikes. It warned other services across the country could also be involved in future action.

Voting begins on Monday for workers at Go Ahead's South Eastern Trains and on the Metro underground service in Tyne and Wear in northeast England, while unions say they also intend to ballot workers on Stagecoach's East Midland Trains.

An RMT spokesman said coordinated action on the four franchises running trains into London would "pretty much" cripple services in the capital.

"Assuming it does come to industrial action, the impact would be immense," he said.

He held out the possibility that all of those involved in disputes would act together, bringing chaos to rail users across vast swathes of the country.

"It would be daft of us not to consider coordinating things if the other disputes are still on when the other ballots conclude," he said.

Operators say strikes would only make conditions worse as they try to deal with a drop in passenger numbers because of the economic downturn.

A survey last month found that London commuters paid far more for their rail services than those in other European countries, with operators allowed to raise regulated fares by at least the rate of inflation plus one percentage point.

However, with predictions that inflation could be significantly negative later this year it raises the prospect that some ticket prices could fall next year. Unions say they fear companies will cut jobs in order to keep up profits.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend