Transport User Voice – January 2023 – Chief executive’s editorial

20 December 2022

The nightmare before Christmas

Rail passengers are facing a toxic cocktail of strikes, overtime bans, late and early train starts, engineering works and difficult weather. Even if you do check ahead the deterrent effect is going to be huge. No one wants to be stranded.

The bar has been set very high by these strikes. From the outside it is impossible to understand the arcane rail working arrangements and deals. It is impossible to tell who is right. Most industrial disputes end in a negotiated settlement. These will too. But when?

People are not going to see family and friends. Lots of people need to still get to work – some people need to get to work to get paid. People will take to cars – a less sustainable form of transport­. The hospitality sector will be hit hard – people may lose their jobs.

I also represent passengers on Network Rail’s Extreme Heat Task Force. Learning more about climate change is chilling. Longer, extremely hot summers periods. Unpredictable wet weather and wind. It is happening now.

Rail can provide part of a sustainable solution to transport needs and wants. However, now, it feels like we are fiddling as the world burns. Sort this out. Settle these strikes.


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