Mid Sussex travelling constituents and their families, myself included, are greatly impacted by the rail strikes this week. Essential travel for work, school and college including examinations, medical appointments and family travel are all being impacted and this unfairly punishes the travelling public. I have met this week with GTR/Southern and joined the daily meetings cross Government on managing the wide-ranging impacts. The local GTR/Southern teams are working ‘short of a strike’ but the knock-on effect of other providers is causing headaches for Mid Sussex travellers, particularly for those travelling from East Grinstead, who’ve only just got some services back.
We have stepped in across COVID to support the railways with £16 billion of support, equating to £600 per household. Strikes should always be the absolute last resort and I urge discussions to continue to avert any further action.
Ticket sales are 25% fewer post pandemic and as the ability to work from home with technology continues to impact long term potential passenger numbers there are therefore few incentives during this period of uncertainty to come back to five days a week of travelling on the railways.
The Government is looking at a full range of options to stop the unions’ action from causing unwarranted disruption and hurting the general public. The options being looked at include: repealing the ban on the supply of agency workers from employment agencies to allow safety-qualified staff to cover on different parts of the network and ensuring season ticket holders can claim full compensation for strike days, in addition to existing refund arrangements.
GTR have advised that on strike days (today, Thursday, Saturday) the last train of the day will leave much earlier than usual on all open routes.
On the day after each strike day (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday), trains will not start to run until approximately after 07:15, at the earliest. On some routes this will be later, including some first services not beginning until 9 or 10am. Frequency and capacity on many routes will also be much lower than our normal weekday service.
The first trains tomorrow morning (22 June) in particular are expected to be very busy and customers that are travelling are recommended to plan journeys and travel later if they can.