THERE will be no Saturday trains serving Droitwich between now and Christmas following a dispute between the RMT union and West Midlands Railway.
The industrial action by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers is over ‘driver only’ trains with the RMT expressing fears on-board conductors, who ensure passenger safety by operating the doors at each station, will be axed from services.
But a West Midlands Railway spokesperson hit back saying it had never proposed driver-only trains, there was no need for the industrial action and it was very disappointed it was going ahead.
He added the company was committed to keeping a safety-critical conductor on every passenger train and had proposed a solution which met the RMT’s latest demands for the new trains when they were delivered.
And he added the operator was committed to resolving the dispute to avoid further disruption and inconvenience for passengers.
The chairman of Droitwich Rail User Action Group Alan Humphries said whatever the rights and wrongs of the strike West Midlands Railway could have provided some services to and from the town.
“The operator could have put on one train an hour or one train every two hours.
“Some lines like the Cross City are less effected and still have a couple of trains every hour.”
He said he felt the operator had decided Droitwich was not important while focusing on maintaining services to neighbouring areas like Bromsgrove and Kidderminster.
“If we had rail replacement travel to Bromsgrove we would then be able to use the Cross City Line.
“There are people who need to get to work in Birmingham on these Saturdays and they won’t be able to.”
A West Midlands Railway spokesperson said the contingency plan for the strike was based on serving as many passengers as possible and was dependent on the route knowledge of the staff it had available.
He added because of the number of passengers on the network – which included London North Western Railway and ran from Liverpool to the capital – it was not logistically feasible to provide alternative transport to everyone who needed it.
The strikes – from 12.01am to 11.59pm every Saturday until December 28 – are happening at the busiest weekends of the year on the network as people head to Birmingham for shopping trips, the Frankfurt Christmas Market and the outdoor ice rink.