Our passengers and staff are facing a tough Christmas, with planned strikes across the South Western Railway network for the vast majority of December.
We know this will make travelling much more difficult for people going to work, to school and to hospital and doctors’ appointments, as well as for those visiting friends and family. It will inevitably affect many people’s Christmas party and New Year’s Eve plans, too.
I share the frustration you feel about this. So I want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to keep you moving if these strikes go ahead .
I also want to make a promise to our staff: there will always be a guard on our trains, as our guards play a key role in delivering the train service passengers need and want. I promise our guards will always have a safety-critical role.
We believe these promises deliver on what the RMT has been asking for, so these strikes are unnecessary.
All we’re asking is that our guards work with us to bring in our new trains, which will help us move more passengers, more comfortably, every day.
Our estimates show that bringing in these new trains could mean more than 10 million extra passenger journeys arrive on time in peak hours every year.
I very much hope we can avoid the strikes happening at all, and we’re still open to discussion. We have been locked in talks with the RMT already this week.
But I’m also a realist, and myself and my team are working extremely hard planning for what happens if the strikes do go ahead, so that we can keep as many passengers moving as possible.
Many trains will still run, and we are planning to announce detailed timetables early next week once they have been finalised.
However, most routes will have a reduced service, some stations will be served by rail replacement buses, and our stations and trains will be much busier than usual.
We are working with other transport providers so as many tickets as possible can be accepted on other rail and bus networks.
And we will do everything we can to provide people, businesses, councils, community groups and other organisations with the most detailed and up-to-date information we have.
But I’d urge you all to check before you travel. The latest information will be on our website. And, if possible, please leave more time for journeys, particularly those from some of our busiest stations and on our busiest routes.
I don’t want this strike to happen. It doesn’t need to happen, and I hope the promises I’ve made to our guards will help reassure them that the strike is unnecessary.
But if the strike does happen, I promise you that we will do everything we can to get you where you need to go in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year.
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