Nobody should be allowed to grind public transport to a halt – Simon Jupp

(And nobody should be allowed to confuse facts with fiction – Owl)

Simon Jupp weighs in on the rail strike, following the party line, but he needs to pay attention to detail and up his game.

For example he says: “The government cannot support union demands for pay increases of 11%

This looks to Owl’s fact checker to be grossly misleading.

Sky news reports: Striking rail workers are asking for a 7% pay rise, despite CPI inflation at 9.1% and RPI at 11.7%. NHS workers and teachers have also threatened to walk out if the government doesn’t up their pay deals. (The Telegraph carries a similar report) 

And remember that the Treasury plans to return to the “triple lock” system, by which the state pension is increased annually in line with inflation (CPI), average earnings or a flat rate of 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest. The “triple lock” was suspended for 2022/23.

The next rise, which will take place in April 2023, will be based on the reading of the consumer price index (CPI) this coming September, when it is expected to reach 10 per cent.

Nobody should be allowed to grind public transport to a halt 

Simon Jupp www.devonlive.com

Many of us in East Devon use the railway regularly to get to school, work, or see friends and family. The railways also connect many of our rural communities with Exeter, including Lympstone, Whimple and Cranbrook. It’s a vital service for many, every day.

As readers will be aware, RMT union members are on strike this week in a dispute with Network Rail over their pay, staffing cuts and working conditions. I’m concerned by the potential for this large-scale industrial action to continue over the summer, disrupting vital services, NHS appointments, and GCSE exams.

There will be disruption to our recovering hospitality and tourism businesses in Exmouth, Topsham, and elsewhere, with people unable to reach hotels or honour restaurant reservations. In addition, the strikes could exasperate existing national trends of working from home, damaging productivity and high street businesses. This will also add extra unnecessary stress on to students who are due to take important exams this week, with schools already writing to parents worried about their children missing tests because they can’t get to school.

The government cannot support union demands for pay increases of 11%. As we know, there’s no such thing as government money – it’s your money. Despite £16 billion of emergency subsidy during the pandemic, the technological reforms necessary to make further funding sustainable are being blocked by militant unions.

One of these reforms is much talked about – the closure of ticket offices. As well as reducing staffing costs, this will allow station staff to be better placed on the platforms, directing travellers and assisting with any accessibility requirements. Because many people purchase their train tickets online and access them on their smart phone, it’s right the government is looking at ways to modernise the railway. Not everyone is on the internet or has access to a smart phone and those people must still be able to buy or collect their tickets from the station. Whilst systems should be modernised, the railways must remain accessible for everyone and I will be pushing the government on this.

The strike action is taking place on Tuesday 21 st , Thursday 24 th and Saturday 26 th June, with only a skeleton service on these days. The action has been designed for maximum disruption and the whole week will be severely impacted. We’re being particularly affected in the South West and I’m in frequent discussions with the railway companies, including GWR and SWR, on how they plan to mitigate the disruption for us here in East Devon.

On the strike days, GWR say they are running some services on the Devon mainline to Paddington but these are starting late and finish early. GWR expects these will be busy. GWR are not running services along the Avocet line between Exmouth and Exeter. SWR are not running services west of Basingstoke, also known as the West of England line. That means no trains between Exeter and Whimple, Cranbrook and Honiton.

The scheduling for the intervening days looks better with services across the network akin to typical Sundays. There is the potential for a slow start though, with trains and drivers starting the day in the wrong place to begin a normal service.

We’re experiencing a staggering level of disruption – triggered by the unreasonable demands of left-wing unions and supported by the Labour Party. It cannot happen again. I sit on the Transport Select Committee, and I will be pressing the case for legislation requiring minimum service levels on the railway network.

Whilst passenger numbers on the railways are doing well locally, they are still some way off pre-pandemic levels nationally. These strikes will have put some people off the railway for good. If we want to get more people to use public transport, we can’t let unions dictate when people can get to where they need to be. Nobody should be allowed to grind public transport to a halt.

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