Trains? – what trains?

ASLEF may have come to an agreement, but RMT have not

The “temporarily amended” MarshLink timetable (originally in place from July 11 for four weeks) seems likely to continue for a while yet. Except for one unfortunate development.

The RMT has decided to strike from next Monday for five days to emphasise their issues with Southern Railway. It seems appropriate that, if the RMT has issues with Southern, they should emphasise them, but they do not seem to be very concerned that their actions (or inactions) will have a considerable effect on passengers and also the economy of the areas the train service will not now reach for a week.

The RMT and Southern are holding talks at ACAS as I write this piece and it is hoped sanity is brought to the table. But, if not and the strike goes ahead, the MarshLink will have no train service at all next week. Furthermore, there will be no replacement buses. So the stretch of line from Ashford to Eastbourne will have no service (although SouthEastern trains will run their normal services from Ashford and Hastings, if passengers can get to them).

Although MLAG would not wish any community to be inflicted with this dispute, it is particularly unfortunate for the MarshLink because neither of the two main disputes listed below apply to our line:

1. Who operates the doors – the doors of the MarshLink’s 171 units cannot be operated by the driver so whatever the eventual resolution, the guard will operate the doors; and

2. Re-assignment of booking office staff – there is no plan to change the role of booking office staff along the MarshLink.

So this is a dispute which, when a resolution is achieved and all the dust dies down, there will be no change to our service anyway. But there should be appropriate compensation for erstwhile passengers – for the compensation offered by Southern, visit But is that adequate compensation ? If you’re a season ticket holder the compensation offered is modest in relation to the disturbance created: if you rely on day tickets, there is no compensation.

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  1. I suggest you all go along to Hastings Pier at 7pm on Monday August 8th and join Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum movement (there’ll be a party atmosphere and a disco). Corbyn’s Labour Party will be denationalising the railways – and Southern Railway would seem to be number one priority for an enforced termination of a failed Franchise.
    Incidentally, people who believe trains can operate on a driver-only basis should ask anyone in a wheelchair how they will then access a train.

  2. I think John Howlett means REnationalising the railways, not DEnationalising them – that was Mrs T who did that. But before you take too long a stroll down memory lane wearing John’s heavily-rose-tinted glasses, and certainly before you dash off to Hastings to join him and his chum Jezza and all the other Corbynistas on Hastings pier, cast your mind back to the days of British Rail. Lack of any form of investment by successive governments (of both colours) since nationalisation had resulted in old (sometimes pre-war) rolling stock, unbelievably overcrowded and often corridor-less commuter trains, filthy carriages, delays, breakdowns and a deteriorating track. The government simply could not afford the railway and this was why it was privatised. We may not like the ‘service’ that we are currently getting from Southern – a company whose executives seem more interested in trousering their £1/2million pay packets than looking after their passengers – sorry, I mean customers. We may feel – and here I agree with John – that they are incompetent and undeserving of their franchise, and it may be that the time has come to look at an alternative to the current franchise system, but nationalisation is not the way forward, it’s the way back to a past that we really do not need to re-visit.


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