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Network Rail workers have decided that a UK-wide strike is needed because of a row over pay, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union stated.

Its members voted 4-1 in favor of action because they rejected pay offers from Network Rail, who owns and maintains most of Britain’s railway infrastructure. Union bosses also rejected an offer, which was a one-off payment of £500 to staff and three years of rises in line with inflation.

The union rejected another deal that Network Rail proposed, which included a no compulsory redundancy commitment extended to the end of 2016. The ballot had a turnout of 60%.

The RMT has around 16,000 members working across Network Rail’s operations and maintenance. The total workforce for the train company is 35,000. The Transport Salaries Staffs Association is balloting its members and the result is due over the next week.

Any union who wishes to take industrial action has to give seven days notice. The new Business Secretary Sajid Javid said that the government is pressing to introduce new laws to stop strikes going ahead unless they have support of 40% of workers who are eligible to vote.

At least 50% of those who are entitled will have to have voted for a strike to go ahead.

Business in Hastings will keep you updated as to when the strikes will take place.

Related Article: Strike date announced

 

Rail passengers using Southeastern services are being urged to check before they travel as a major timetable change comes into effect from Monday 12 January.

On that date work will start on Southeastern’s platforms at London Bridge as part of the £6.5 billion government-sponsored Thameslink Programme – which will dramatically increase capacity on one of Europe’s busiest stretches of railway once complete.

As a result, Hastings to London Bridge via the Charing Cross services will be unable to stop at the station until August 2016 whilst these works are carried out. The new timetable from Southeastern includes service changes required to accommodate the construction work and also includes new long-term improvements that provide extra services and new journey opportunities.

The principal changes to services to accommodate the Thameslink Programme include:southeastern-CharingX1-trains

  • Charing Cross trains won’t stop at London Bridge from January 2015 until August 2016. If passengers need London Bridge they should catch a Cannon Street service or interchange enroute.
  • Charing Cross services to and from New Cross, St Johns, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park will be permanently diverted to and from Cannon Street. There will be fewer peak trains (two fewer trains in the morning peak, and four fewer trains in the evening peak). The line will be served by longer trains to boost capacity in peak hours
  • Charing Cross services to Plumstead, Woolwich Dockyard, Belvedere and Erith will also be diverted to run to/from Cannon Street
  • Some trains will be diverted to or from an alternative London terminal
  • Longer metro trains to increase capacity
  • Longer opening hours for Cannon Street station (0500-0100), including all day opening on Sundays. (Cannon Street tube station to also offer longer opening hours)
  • Diversion of some trains from Rochester, Broadstairs, Ashford, Dover and Orpington into London Blackfriars
  • Since 20 December, Rochester to Bedford and Ashford to Bedford services (and vice versa) will start and terminate at London Blackfriars

Long-term service improvements include a new fast service from Hastings to Charing Cross departing at 0804 and a Charing Cross to Hastings service departing at 1620, offering a 90 minute journey time

Southeastern has informed us that they are working together with the transport industry to co-ordinate planning and an arrangement is in place for rail tickets to be accepted on specific London Underground, bus and Docklands Light Railway routes to ensure that passengers can get to London Bridge at no extra charge while Network Rail is doing this crucial work. More details can be found on the Southeastern website.

David Statham, managing director of Southeastern, said: “The project to rebuild London Bridge station will provide a brand new station with a concourse the size of the pitch at Wembley Stadium, new journey opportunities to the north and south of England, and it will untangle the railway lines to remove the bottleneck we experience today.

“This will however, mean our passengers, particularly those who use London Bridge station will need to change their travel patterns while the work is carried out. Our new timetable is designed to provide a service that meets demand at a time when track capacity has much reduced, whilst also providing new journey opportunities, longer trains and later services.

“We consulted with our customers and stakeholders to develop our plans and this timetable balances the competing needs of passengers with the infrastructure constraints.”

Passengers can check for changes to their services at www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/thameslink/january2015/.

Southeastern today announced a freeze on super off peak fares for 2015 that will cut the cost of more than one million off peak journeys for passengers in Kent and East Sussex. The company is also making the special fares available on more routes, including Britain’s only high speed service, which runs from Kent into London.

The train operator also announced it will offer Advance fares for the first time in 2015 – allowing customers a discount by pre-booking off peak fares via the Southeastern website.

The news follows the Chancellor’s announcement that regulated rail fares for 2015 will increase by 2.5 percent. The overall average increase in regulated (season ticket) and unregulated (off peak) fares on the Southeastern network will be below inflation and limited to 2.2 percent.hastings-train-station

The fares passengers pay help to fund a huge programme of investment, in addition to paying for the day-to-day running of the rail network. Southeastern has already announced that it will invest more than £70 million in improving its trains, stations and information provision over the next three years.

Planned improvements include:

·         A new timetable delivering more Highspeed services, and new journey opportunities designed to help passengers during the three year rebuild of London Bridge station as part of the £6.5bn Thameslink Programme

·         More than 95,000 extra seats on off-peak services, including 1,000 extra seats on Southeastern’s High Speed services every day and 2,000 extra seats in the afternoon peak from January 2015

·         Up to 75 extra staff will be hired and deployed to gatelines at key stations

·         170 more customer service staff at key stations throughout each major timetable change to help passengers with information and provide advice on alternative travel options

·         The opening hours of Cannon Street station will be extended so that staff are available between 04.30 and 01.30 and to accommodate services running into the station later in the day

·         Train crew and  station gateline staff will be given tablet devices to ensure better access to train service information (by 31 July 2015)

·         20 new information screens will be installed at key stations to enhance the way information is shared during disruption (by 1 April 2015)

·         Investing a further £4.8 million in station improvements

·         A deep clean of all stations (by 30 September 2015)

·         Installing 63 more self service ticket machines at stations

Since October, Southeastern has offered a series of discounts to cut the cost of travel for its passengers. Its GroupSave fares offer a 34 per cent discount for passengers travelling in a group of three to nine compared with the price of individual adult tickets. Throughout December, the company is also running a Christmas sale with 25 per cent off the cost of many standard off-peak train tickets, including the high speed service, when tickets are bought online at www.southeasternrailway.co.uk.

David Statham, managing director of Southeastern, said: “We know that customers want more value for money and an improvement to their service – and we’re committed to providing just that. More than 250,000 people rely on our trains for their journeys every day and we’re investing fares directly in schemes that will make those journeys easier for our passengers. These include extra seats on some services, providing more staff to help passengers at stations and on trains, refreshing the look of our fleet of trains and improving stations right across our network.”

David Statham has been appointed managing director of Southeastern, the Govia railway company serving Kent, south east London and part of East Sussex.

David-Statham

He will take up the position on Monday 15 September and until this time will remain MD of First Capital Connect (FCC). The Go-Ahead Group CEO, David Brown, said:

“I’m very pleased that after a comprehensive selection process David Statham will be joining The Go-Ahead Group. His commercial and operational expertise and experience will be a great asset for us. Southeastern is an important part of our rail portfolio and over the next few years we need to continue improving services for customers at the same time as being a key delivery partner for the Thameslink Programme upgrade work. David has proven success in leading complex railway change projects and improving customer satisfaction levels.”

David Statham added:

“I’m delighted to be joining the team at Southeastern at such a critical time and am looking forward to building on the firm foundations laid by the current management team.” David has an extensive track record of leadership within the rail sector, having held a number of senior roles with a strong focus on customer service and major project delivery, most recently as the managing director of First Capital Connect.

Southeastern has also stated that it is currently discussing with the DfT a direct award contract extension until 2018. Southeastern serves 179 stations and carries around 600,000 passengers on more than 2,000 train journeys each weekday.