The RMT trade union has called on the government to stop any potential cuts taking place on South Western Railway.
Officials contacted Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris asking him to intervene to prevent South Western Railway making “swingeing cuts” to trains and services. The union is concerned that jobs may be lost and stations closed.
South Western Railway has launched a December 2022 timetable consultation. It has done so address concerns that passenger levels will not return to pre-COVID levels in the foreseeable future. The operator said the consultation was “considering a specification for services rather than specific trains or a timetable”. Focus would be on dialogue with “a defined set of organisations, which have a strategic or representative role rather than the wider community”.
RMT argues that Chris Heaton-Harris has recently stated that demand for trains will fully recover. General secretary Mick Lynch said: “The messaging from the government and the rail industry is a total shambles. On the one hand, we have the Rail Minister himself saying that rail passenger demand will fully recover post-COVID and, on the other hand, we have private train operators like South Western Railway claiming otherwise in order to make swingeing cuts to services and, ultimately, jobs.
“It is an absolute scandal that in the year we host vital climate talks at COP26 that the government and rail industry is pursuing a policy of rail austerity as short sighted as the Beeching cuts of the 1960s, which will just force more cars onto the roads.
“Today, I have written to the Rail Minister calling on him to intervene, do his job and act as a champion and guardian of our railways and not the axeman for Her Majesty’s Treasury. These cuts must be stopped.”