South Western Railway strike: passengers call for Christmas truce

18 December 2019

“I am very disappointed … have been late to work on every day I have managed to get a train … I’m very annoyed that I have just bought my season ticket for over £4,000 and I’m not able to use the trains as I should be able to for the money I have paid!” Commuter from Basingstoke

South Western Railway passengers disrupted by strike action have had their say.

Transport Focus spoke to South Western Railway passengers to understand the effect the strikes are having on their lives. We also wrote to the operator calling for enhanced compensation over and above the standard Delay Repay arrangements.

As the strike runs into its third week, Transport Focus is calling for the RMT and South Western Railway to resolve the dispute and for the train operator to offer special compensation to passengers.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“Yet more strikes are being dumped on passengers who may have already to cancel Christmas holiday plans and endure miserable journeys to work. This dispute has dragged on for far too long and is damaging trust in the railway.

“Passengers have had enough of the ongoing industrial action on South Western Railway services. They have faced lost time, money, more driving and deep frustration at not being able to rely on the trains.

“Passengers facing a month-long strike deserve special compensation that recognises the unprecedented extent of the disruption to their lives.

“It is vital that the parties in this dispute get back around the table to urgently resolve it without bringing the railway to a standstill.”

The strike had a significant impact on passengers with 62 per cent of people surveyed saying their journey was affected. 25 per cent said that they had not been able to make a journey that they intended to make.

Passengers told Transport Focus how they had to allow more time for their journeys, worked from home, or cancelled appointments and trips out because of the strike.

One South Western Railway passenger told us:

“The revised timetable has increased my journey … this now means that I can’t see my children in the evenings or read them a story before they go to bed. They are suffering because of the selfish actions of a few.” Commuter from Thames Ditton

Another said:

“With no trains AT ALL at my station (Mottisfont & Dunbridge.) I have had to leave home earlier than usual, drive eight miles to park, catch a normal bus to Winchester, stay at a hotel in London overnight, leave work early to make my way home via train – bus – drive. Extra expense and inconvenience.” Commuter from Mottisfont and Dunbridge

Another said:

“Fewer trains, impossible to board some of them. No refunds on my monthly season ticket. Even the scheduled trains on the revised timetable have been either cancelled or late.” Commuter from Raynes Park

Another said:

“I have had to change many of my work appointments. I have had to stay at other people’s houses so I can use a different train line (SE) I have altered evening plans as the last train back from LDN is at 11pm. I have declined my works Christmas party in Central LDN as I cannot rely on SWT getting me home … Overall I have found this very stressful.” Commuter from Surbiton

Passengers in the survey were generally aware of the strikes and had adequate information from South Western Railway in advance.

Notes to editors

Download the South Western Railway strike survey.

Transport Focus used its Transport User Panel to survey 289 South Western Railway passengers between 5 and 12 December 2016.

For further information please contact press office on 0300 123 2170.


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