Double Blow for hard pressed Chiswick Commuters using South West Trains as RMT votes for another strike  

Beleaguered commuters using the South West Trains service from Chiswick Station have suffered a double blow with news of a New Year Strike and the publication of figures that show the network to be the worst performing in the South East. There will be two 48-hour "back to back" stoppages - on January 3 and 4 and again on January 7 and 8. This straddles the weekend. Originally the RMT intended to ballot for strikes on Christmas Eve.


A South West Train at Chiswick station.

The strike is on the issue of parity of pay rises between drivers and other staff. The drivers have awarded 7.6% and the RMT is insisting on this for other grades of staff. South West Trains have offered 3.8% and binding arbitration if this is not acceptable. They awarded a larger rise to the drivers, who are mainly members of ASLEF, to stop them being poached by other rail companies. Most guards and station staff are members of the RMT. SWT is one of the only networks to have continued to use guards on their trains. Further industrial action is anticipated against the disciplining of two union representatives for safety breaches.

An SWT spokesperson said, "They have chosen once again to go down the route of maximum disruption. 4% without strings is an inflation busting pay deal - the RMT has settled for far less elsewhere. They claim they want the same deal as the drivers - in that case they must do what the drivers did and talk to us about productivity."

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The latest figures from the Strategic Rail Authority also bring bad news for hard pressed commuters. The figures show SWT to be the worst London network in terms of arriving on time with only 71.6% making it within 5 minutes of the time-table. In addition it is the second worst for overcrowding according to the SRA annual report exceeded only by Chiswick's other service provider Silverlink.

One regular user of Chiswick station said, " I'm sure the figures mask a much worse performance for the suburban lines like the Hounslow Loop. The fast trains always seem to get priority and in my experience it is far more than one in four trains that is seriously late."

The figures are likely to provoke a bitter response from many Chiswick residents following recent comments from Hounslow Council that they pay higher CPZ charges because of "generally better" transport links.

The award of the new franchise does commit South West Trains to increase the regularity of the service through Chiswick before 2004. South West Trains also have the biggest commitment to order new stock of any of the train operating companies.

Passenger Rail Performance: July - October 2001

Percentage of trains arriving on time
22 July 22 July 19 Aug 16 Sept
- - -     -
13 Oct 18 Aug 15 Sept 13 Oct
London and South East All Day
Chiltern Railways 90.6 89.8 92.2 89.9
Great Eastern Railway 85.6 83.5 87.8 85.4
Silverlink 83.0 83.2 81.4 84.4
Connex South Eastern 81.8 83.0 83.5 78.8
c2c 79.7 79.1 81.3 78.8
Thames Trains 78.8 79.1 78.8 78.5
Connex South Central 78.4 78.1 82.7 74.5
WAGN 77.9 77.2 79.6 76.9
Thameslink 72.6 72.5 78.3 66.9
South West Trains 71.6 73.9 73.3 67.6
London and South East Peak
Chiltern Railways 89.6 90.8 90.1 88.1
Connex South Eastern 81.5 86.1 83.7 75.0
Great Eastern Railway 80.3 78.7 83.4 78.8
c2c 78.3 81.2 81.3 71.0
Silverlink 78.3 81.9 70.0 83.4
Connex South Central 76.8 79.1 81.9 69.6
Thames Trains 76.6 77.0 76.6 76.2
South West Trains 72.4 78.4 73.4 65.4
Thameslink 71.2 73.8 79.6 60.5
WAGN 68.8 67.4 70.5 68.5

London & South East and Other Operators show % arriving within 5 minutes of timetabled time.

Source: Strategic Rail Authority, December 2001


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