Train tickets

Strikes that have disrupted rail services across the country are not just about pay, a Lichfield councillor has said.

The first of three national days of union action is taking place today (21st June).

It has seen cancellations and severely reduced services operating on the West Coast Main Line and the Cross City Line in and out of Lichfield.

Cllr Dave Robertson, Labour representative for Curborough ward at Lichfield District Council, said the issues were not solely about pay.

“I wonder how many people speaking about the rail strike have actually spoken to staff at stations? I have, because I went down to speak to them this morning.

“This isn’t just about pay – it’s also about being able to retire with a pension that supports a decent quality of life.

“But the people I spoke to are most concerned about job cuts making us all less safe.”

Cllr Dave Robertson, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Robertson said staffing levels were key to ensuring people were safe at local stations and on services.

“In the last two weeks, one person I spoke to has saved a life by preventing a suicide at Lichfield Trent Valley – the same person has stopped three attempted suicides in 2022 alone.

“Another had supported someone having a panic attack after missing a train.

“Fewer staff on stations means fewer eyes spotting potential safety problems before they hurt someone.

“This is not just about pay.”

Cllr Dave Robertson, Lichfield District Council

Further strikes are also scheduled for 23rd and 25th June, but passengers are also being warned of disruption on other days this week as a result of knock-on effects from the industrial action.

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9 Comments

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  1. I agree the issue with the rail system isn’t the amount of money train drivers are paid, the average across the TOC’s is £44,000 and in London its £55,000.
    The Williams-Shapps review found 6 key points that need fixing, The rail sector too often loses sight of its customers. It is missing opportunities to meet
    the needs of the communities it serves. It is fragmented and accountabilities are not always clear. The sector lacks clear strategic direction. It needs to become more productive and tackle long-term costs. It struggles to innovate
    and adapt.
    The attitude of the unions is at the heart of some of these challenges, due to archaic working practices a complete reluctance to accept change or progress. Some recent examples include, such as allowing management to use FaceTime to contact staff during the pandemic, that wasn’t acceptable as it wasn’t consulted on. Or Network Rail engineers refusing to share cars with other teams or to travel (only a few miles) outside of their area to perform repairs.
    The union’s are totally against the introduction of technology that would actually improve their job and rail safety, such as automated signalling.

    With regard to pension’s the sector still has one of the best schemes, not to mention the former staff on the older DB schemes that includes free 1st class train travel for life (including spouse and immediate children). The current scheme is more generous that the standard civil service one and allows early retirement from 62.

    The taxpayer funded the rail system during 2020/21 to the tune of £16bn, whilst the ORR haven’t released the number for 21/22 I suspect it will be a similar figure, which will represent a combined increase in funding of more than £20Bn.
    What do we get in return from the Unions is call for industrial and social unrest and huge amounts of animosity to people that don’t believe in their views.

    The RMT seem to have forgotten that we are all the works and we’d like to use the train to get to work.

    The formation of GBRail cant come quick enough to get us a better service that serves the people it was built for rather than the political aspirations and ideology of the RMT.

  2. If you mess about with the economy the way the Tories have over the last thirteen years then you are just stacking up problems. There are consequences for mega low interest rates, quantitive easing, and suppressed wage and pension rises. It eventually catches up with you.
    The housing market has been skewed by low saving interest forcing investors into property to the detriment of first time buyers.
    The manifesto was reneged on for pensioners who received a tiny increase in basic pension.
    Most public services have had tiny increases in wages for a decade and more.
    This is not just about the railway workers (who still have representation) it’s about the whole of the service sector and other workers.
    It is legitimate that unions want to preserve jobs and receive fair pay. The promises from government that redundancies (some of which are unsafe) will lead to better salaries for the rest is not true or fair. No trade unionist would want fairer pay at the expense of a fellow worker.
    Brace yourself. The camel has reached the last straw stage. We will all suffer one way or another for poor economy management from a profligate government.

  3. Depending on the scheme and employer benefits can be.

    2/3 thirds of final salary at 60.

    5% additional voluntary contribution by employee matched 100% by employer to retire early above standard contributions.

    35 hour working week over 4 days.

    Voluntary working on Sundays with overtime.

    Years of RPI +1% wage increases.

    Not furloughed so no 20% loss of income.

    Regardless of all that income has collapsed at the fare box, far more than passenger numbers because of the type of markets lost i.e. business/commuting.

    Therefore the RMT are asking the tax payer to increase subsidies further to benefit those with good pay/terms and conditions at the expense 0f public expenditure elsewhere, that is needed more, universal credit, state pensions, increasing auto enrolment govt contributions, NHS backlog, education gap, defence, etc etc.

    The reforms proposed are inline with the agreements other Unions in the public sector agreed a decade or more ago.

    It is like the RMT want to run Labour straight into an Autumn Election trap before the 12 months is up and the Conservatives can have another go at getting rid of Boris.

  4. Ah, GBRail. 2 observations:

    1) The gov.uk website informs us that with the introduction of GBRail “A quarter-century of fragmentation on the railways will end”. That would be the quarter century since the Tories privatised the railways, then.
    2) Anything branded as “Great British” anything won’t be great, and nor will it be British. The same foreign operators will run the services under different names, and our taxes will continue to fund them whilst they provide better and cheaper services in their own countries – e.g. Deutsche Bahn, Abellio and Trenitalia, all state-owned enterprises.

    The Tories’ ideology and politics has put us where we are. @Who Signed This Off?! – if you seriously think that the Tories will ever “get us a better service that serves the people it was built for”, we’ve obviously been living in different countries for the last 40 years.

  5. As a regular rail user there is already a lack of staff at stations. Go down to Lichfield TV on a sunday there are no staff on duty the booking office is closed and no toilets available. The amount of fare evasion going on throughout the network would probably cover a good pay rise for the work force. Also the station is a very lonely place on a dark night surely as the travelling public we deserve security at night either when travelling with a guard on the train and at stations.

  6. It is about time the Trade Unions started to speak out again about the unfairness and injustices in Britain, They have been quiet for too long and its about time they took this unjust and unfair government to task

  7. The uk business model for railways is broken.
    Run for the shareholders they take billions out of the railways to pay dividends and fat cat salaries. Mostly they are foreign operators and the lucre doesn’t stay here. Investment is stifled and we are conditioned to moan at the key workers rather than the business model.
    I hope people realise they’re being taken for mugs if they support this model.

  8. I understand that the rail strike is partly about closing ticket offices and removing guards from trains.

    The ticket office at Lichfield City station is highly efficient at finding good trains for people who may not be able, or want to, book on line or by machine, and is staffed by cheerful and helpful staff.

    Guards on a train are essential should (Heaven forbid) there be an accident, or a lone woman need help. Doing without guards and ticket offices seems both ageist and sexist.

    On a slightly lighter note, on a recent journey to London, the guard had to announce that the lavatories in the front part of the train were out of order, apparently causing queues for the remaining two. A little later he announced that he had phoned ahead and arranged a ten minute ‘toilet break’ at Milton Keynes station, which duly occurred.

    General relief all round for a quick thinking guard on board!

  9. From above: “The union’s are totally against the introduction of technology that would actually improve their job and rail safety, such as automated signalling.”
    False news – automated signalling is being introduced on the East Coast. So much of what is written above just wrong and some are only partially true. So many staff across the TOCs and NR have differing employment conditions eg NR maintenance staff are rostered weekends – above gives the impression that it is always optional. Someone who knows Grant Shapps could have written it!!

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