First Great Western strike: Why are members striking, when is it and how long will they last?

First Great Western has said: 'We recommend that customers with tickets for the dates affected travel on either Wednesday 08 July or Saturday 11 July'

Click to follow

Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at First Great Western will walk out for 48 hours from 6.30pm.

Q: What are the strikes about?

The RMT is concerned about safety, job losses and buffet services on new Hitachi Inter City Express trains.

Q: When are the strikes and where do they affect?

According to First Great Western (FGW), services expected to be significantly affected from Thursday 09 July to start of service on Saturday 11 July, "capacity will be limited and trains will be very busy."

The following services will be unable to operate, between: 

• Severn Beach and Bristol Temple Meads

• Weymouth and Westbury

• Swindon and Westbury via Melksham

• Looe and Liskeard

• Newquay and Par

• Falmouth and Truro

• Greenford and Paddington

There are also limited services in Devon and Cornwall, the Cotswolds, Bristol, South Wales, London Thames Valley, and the 'Night Riviera' sleepers are cancelled from Wednesday 08 July.

For an updated list of services affected, please visit the FGW site.

Q: How long will they last?

The strike is expected to last 48 hours, as normal service should resume at some point on Saturday.

Q: What are both sides saying?

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash, said: "RMT has made every effort to secure a series of very basic assurances from FGW over jobs, services and safety as a result of the introduction of the new Hitachi fleet and they have shown no intention of addressing those issues in the talks today.

"RMT is angry and disappointed that the company have ignored the massive vote for action by their staff and have instead opted to plough ahead with a series of actions that will decimate jobs, services and safety.

"As a result of FGW collapsing the talks in this cavalier fashion the action goes ahead as planned.

"It is frankly ludicrous that East Coast, who are introducing the same trains, have given us the assurances we are seeking but FGW have ignored us and are crashing on with the ripping out of buffet cars and the threat to safety-critical station and train staff, purely to maximise the profits from new trains bought for them by the British taxpayer."

First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: "This industrial action is about the new trains we are bringing into operation, the largest fleet upgrade on the Great Western for a generation, which will shave journey times by as much as 17 minutes, and provide the extra seating capacity we know our customers want to see.

"In order to be able to do this we need to operate these trains differently to the way we operate our current 40 year-old High Speed Trains. The best way to make the most of these new trains, in an efficient and safe way, is by the use of driver operation of the doors.

"41 per cent of RMT members who work for us voted in favour of this action and we are disappointed that our assurances over job security; the need for more, not fewer staff; and our commitment to maintaining existing pay and conditions for affected staff have not been heard.

"All of the issues raised by the RMT have been discussed with representatives and we believe we have made some progress. We are continuing to meet and I very much hope that the RMT will not go ahead with the strike."

Q: I have booked a train and hold a seat reservation, will this be upheld?

FGW has said: "Please note that it is unlikely that we will be able to honour seat reservations on these days, but should you choose to alter your travel plans we can change the reservation without penalty."

Q: Are catering services on trains still running?

In short, no.

FGW has said: "There will be no catering available on trains so please buy food and drink before you board."

Q: Should I still be trying to travel during the strike days?

FGW have advised against travel on strike days. If available, other services may be less disrupted.

The company has said: "We recommend that customers with tickets for the dates affected travel on either Wednesday 08 July or Saturday 11 July if possible."

Comments