Wealden’s MP has expressed ‘disappointment’ at a lack of replacement services for her constituents during this week’s rail strike.
The RMT union’s five days of industrial action began today (Monday August 6) as part of a long-running dispute with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) over the future role of conductors on Southern services.
Southern has brought in an amended timetable, leaving no services running on the Uckfield line.
Wealden MP Nus Ghani spoke to the new Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today to emphasise the extent of the disruption being caused to passengers.
She said: “The fact that a ballot of 393 union members has resulted in a strike affecting roughly 300,000 daily service users is utterly irresponsible and totally unnecessary. The only thing it will achieve is to cause more misery for passengers.
“Neither party in this dispute has covered themselves in glory. The RMT’s position is in my view unjustified, and Govia Thameslink’s handling of the situation has been disappointing.
“This afternoon I spoke to the new Transport Secretary as the first day of the strike unfolded and its impact was felt across the South East.
“I wanted to relay directly the strength of feeling and anger that the strike is causing people just trying to go about their lives. I have requested a further meeting with him or the Rail Minister next week, and we will continue to be in touch until the situation is resolved.
“I have also written to Govia Thameslink to ask them to explain how and why the decision was taken to leave the line to Uckfield with no services or replacement services, while other lines are much better served. I have asked for confirmation that they explored, and are continuing to explore, all options for replacement services.
“The compensation that is available for season ticket holders and passengers who had advance tickets is also of huge importance to many of my constituents, and I am keen to find out what compensation may be available for those who have had to pay for accommodation in London during the week in order to be able to work.
“Day one of the strike has caused huge frustration as expected. We are used to having a misery line to Uckfield which is bad a lot of the time, but even a misery line is better than having no line at all. I am making sure that ministers, GTR and the RMT are all aware of the effect this is having.
“There is still time for the union to return to the table and end this irresponsible strike, and I call on them to do so.”
The RMT has held days of strike action in April, May, and June, over proposed changes on Southern services which would see drivers operate the train doors instead of conductors. The union has raised safety concerns and possible job losses in the future once the safety-critical part of the conductor’s role is removed.
Passengers have faced months of misery on the Southern network due to staff shortages, something that both the RMT and GTR have blamed each other for.
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