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Travel & transport from BBC stories as at 21:15 04 Oct 2022
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Author Topic: Rail Strike Looming  (Read 8047 times)
IndustryInsider
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« Reply #75 on: May 29, 2022, 03:06:47 pm »

It’ll become much harder for them.
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« Reply #76 on: May 29, 2022, 03:11:51 pm »

Yes, I agree.  Although I suspect ticket vending machines will also largely become a thing of the past in the coming years, as e-tickets/passes will quickly become established as the primary way of obtaining authority to travel.

What about the minority who are and I suspect will still be in the future unable or unwilling to use the internet?

It'll become a progressively smaller cohort - "unable" to use the internet will need to be properly catered for, but "unwilling"? I suggest that they will need to move with the times.
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JayMac
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« Reply #77 on: May 29, 2022, 08:19:37 pm »

Editorial from the (29th May 2022) Guardian:

Quote
The RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers) union’s vote for strike action should prompt a rethink of a short-sighted cuts programme.

At some point this summer, a popular vote will help determine the location of the future headquarters of Great British Railways (GBR (Great British Railways)). Unveiled with boosterish enthusiasm last year by the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, this new public body will supersede Network Rail, overseeing both services and infrastructure. Wherever GBR is eventually based – candidate hosts include historic train towns such as Crewe and Darlington – it will have its work cut out.

Last week’s overwhelming vote in favour of industrial action by members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has been predictably portrayed as a return to 1970s-style union militancy. Against a backdrop of soaring inflation and public sector pay caps, a potential confrontation between organised labour and the government does have a certain retro quality. But the Life on Mars alarmism is overdone and misses the deeper issues at stake. The RMT’s demands for better pay and job security should be seen in the context of an industry whose future is suddenly and disturbingly uncertain.

Total passenger numbers on trains have now returned to about 80% of pre-Covid levels. But the figures are significantly lower on profitable commuter routes – particularly those into London. White-collar workers have embraced hybrid and remote working as the new normal, and the rail industry faces an annual £2bn shortfall in revenue. While the population stayed at home during the pandemic, the government spent an extra £15bn to keep the network running. But as it turns the financial taps off and demands deep spending cuts, the government is in effect ordering the rail industry to cut its cloth according to these changed circumstances.

Understandably, given the high proportion of fixed costs involved in running a railway, the RMT’s leaders fear that their members will bear the brunt of this coming retrenchment. As well as a pay rise to reflect the impact of double-digit inflation – after a two-year freeze for many workers – the union is seeking to ensure that there are no compulsory redundancies among station staff and maintenance workers. The resounding vote to strike if necessary has strengthened the RMT’s hand. Its warnings about cutting corners on safety should be taken seriously, given previous disasters, though the benefits of new technologies should not be ruled out. On the other side of the table, Network Rail and the train operators are justified in arguing that changing patterns of rail usage may require more flexible working patterns. Compromises will be needed if levels of disruption not seen since the 1990s are to be avoided.

In the longer term, the government must decide what future it actually wants for the sector. Imposed cuts leading to less frequent, more crowded trains could trigger a spiral of decline. That would be utterly at odds with Whitehall’s levelling up agenda, which purportedly aims to boost and develop public transport infrastructure and services beyond south-east England. It would also undermine the vital role that the rail industry should play in the country’s transition to net zero. As a TUC study published this month argues, investment and imagination are needed during a crucial decade when a transition away from cars, not trains, is the priority.

One of the leading historians of our railways, Christian Wolmar, has written about the “inability of successive governments to set out precisely what they are for”. Should rail travel be treated as essentially a business like any other, or as a public good to be run – and subsidised – according to different criteria? Driven by a short-sighted determination to rein in spending following the pandemic, Mr Shapps is reverting to the former proposition. That could have lasting and damaging consequences. Our railways deserve better than a future of managed decline.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2022, 12:29:39 pm by bignosemac » Logged

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ChrisB
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« Reply #78 on: May 29, 2022, 08:53:25 pm »

That was in today’s Observer.
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JayMac
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« Reply #79 on: May 29, 2022, 08:58:20 pm »

That was in today’s Observer.

... too?

When it's published online, it's The Guardian. Which Is what I linked to.

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ChrisB
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« Reply #80 on: May 29, 2022, 09:05:21 pm »

Posted at 1830 today, so actually more likely to be tomorrow’s print edition of the Guardian.
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JayMac
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« Reply #81 on: May 29, 2022, 09:09:34 pm »

Posted at 1830 today, so actually more likely to be tomorrow’s print edition of the Guardian.

Unfortunately, I can't provide links to future physical print media. Would you like directions to the newsagents? Tongue
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#NotMyKing
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« Reply #82 on: May 29, 2022, 10:09:42 pm »

Yes, I agree.  Although I suspect ticket vending machines will also largely become a thing of the past in the coming years, as e-tickets/passes will quickly become established as the primary way of obtaining authority to travel.

What about the minority who are and I suspect will still be in the future unable or unwilling to use the internet?

It'll become a progressively smaller cohort - "unable" to use the internet will need to be properly catered for, but "unwilling"? I suggest that they will need to move with the times.

I’m not sure it’s a case of unwilling, more a case of the independence we have previously offered as an affluent country to those in different positions to the majority of us. Set up individuals and a coherent system so everyone can join in and I agree that we can positively progress in the way we live and operate, but assuming that some don’t swap to the technology leading society because they don’t want to move with the times is foolhardy. We must remember that it is largely privately funded technology and the private companies that adopt it leading the rapid change in culture and society nowadays, rather than authorities including the government. As often explained on this forum, even those in the know often see the flaws in automated systems and apps that don’t tell the full truth. So expecting everyone to be on board without a reasonable and negotiated period of inclusion isn’t particularly fair.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #83 on: May 30, 2022, 05:29:05 am »

Yes, I agree.  Although I suspect ticket vending machines will also largely become a thing of the past in the coming years, as e-tickets/passes will quickly become established as the primary way of obtaining authority to travel.

What about the minority who are and I suspect will still be in the future unable or unwilling to use the internet?

It'll become a progressively smaller cohort - "unable" to use the internet will need to be properly catered for, but "unwilling"? I suggest that they will need to move with the times.

I’m not sure it’s a case of unwilling, more a case of the independence we have previously offered as an affluent country to those in different positions to the majority of us. Set up individuals and a coherent system so everyone can join in and I agree that we can positively progress in the way we live and operate, but assuming that some don’t swap to the technology leading society because they don’t want to move with the times is foolhardy. We must remember that it is largely privately funded technology and the private companies that adopt it leading the rapid change in culture and society nowadays, rather than authorities including the government. As often explained on this forum, even those in the know often see the flaws in automated systems and apps that don’t tell the full truth. So expecting everyone to be on board without a reasonable and negotiated period of inclusion isn’t particularly fair.

I didn't suggest that it was fair.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #84 on: May 30, 2022, 09:04:39 am »

And are you saying that we haven’t had a @reasonable and negotiated period of inclusion” yet? How long dobyou suggest that would be?
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« Reply #85 on: May 30, 2022, 10:23:29 am »

I suggest that if private companies involved in something which is perceived as a public service want to change the way people use that service because new technology becomes available, then those companies make sure they are not excluding individuals who may not be able, as confident or have the money available to get involved in the technology. The railway isn’t retail, it is a huge aspect of some people’s lives, much like any other form of public transport. It isn’t the same as someone like McDonald’s deciding to use and automated system instead of more traditional means as it provides access. A reasonable and negotiated period should be as long as it takes for a rail operator to find out who is using the old, yet perhaps most simple to some, system of doing things, and then make sure those people have the means to continue to use the railway in the same way as the rest of us. You can let technology and markets lead retail, but everyday services heavily involved in people’s lives should require inclusion for everyone, so change should be scrutinised and not hurried through because the majority are doing things a new way. Having more than one system in place for people to use doesn’t much affect those using a new technology anyhow.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #86 on: May 30, 2022, 10:29:21 am »

It does if it costs money to staff sales points? (Just making the point, not saying I'm in agreement)
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ChrisB
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« Reply #87 on: May 30, 2022, 10:38:58 am »

Posted at 1830 today, so actually more likely to be tomorrow’s print edition of the Guardian.

Unfortunately, I can't provide links to future physical print media. Would you like directions to the newsagents? Tongue

Here's the Observer piece. You'll note it's on the Guardian website as that is who owns the paper & The Observer doesn't have it's own website

Quote
Rail staff are set for battle, but a post-Covid strike could run off track
The working-from-home revolution has altered the dynamics of industrial action on the transport network

The railway has long been quietly gearing up for what is being headlined as the biggest industrial battle in a generation. Now, with the weapon of a national strike ballot primed, the RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers) rail union has to decide whether to pull the trigger.

Its national executive committee will discuss next steps in the coming days, after 40,000 members across Network Rail and 15 train operating companies voted overwhelmingly for action. For now, it is officially inviting more talks with train operating companies – a slightly perplexing stance for some in the industry, who said the RMT had jumped the gun before pay discussions had begun.

Nonetheless, many expect the first in what is likely to be a series of 24-hour stoppages to be called for late June. At an estimated daily cost of £30m, that will prove, as transport secretary Grant Shapps warned, damaging to an industry very much in recovery mode, but not necessarily a full-blown logistical crisis for the country, as some have suggested.

Senior rail figures looked on aghast as Shapps said ministers were considering limiting the right to strike – a move that inevitably inflamed unions. More thoughtful parts of government have been trying quietly to avoid conflict: bosses are drawing up contingency plans that will not work if all rail unions join the strike.

For the RMT, there is a significant dent in an otherwise unanimous vote, with Govia Thameslink Railway employees only backing action short of a strike. GTR contains three big commuter operations, Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern. The latter was the scene of bitter and prolonged strikes in 2016-17, a time when most of its customers were forced to come into London to work regardless.

Office staff are now proved well able to work from home – a change that will hugely reduce political pressure from MPs (Member of Parliament) in the commuter belt to settle strikes at all costs. And without continuous strikes for more than 72 hours, there is little prospect of goods or power supplies being disrupted, despite dire warnings over the critical role of rail freight.

The Southern strikes are also a reminder that the RMT train staff alone were not enough, even then, to force a total stoppage – or to entirely halt the reforms they were fighting.

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The critical RMT weapon in any strike this time will be its 20,000 Network Rail members, including around 5,000 signallers, who would be able to stop large parts of the network running. But the newest parts of the railway – such as Thameslink and the intercity main lines – use digital signalling that can be operated by a handful of staff, allowing managers and non-RMT signallers to keep a limited service going.

Other unions may yet play a role, including the TSSA» (Transport Salaried Staffs' Association - about), which represents more of the middle management – including the contingency staff – and would have leverage in combined action. The train drivers’ union, Aslef, is unlikely to act before autumn – but as a dispute in Scotland shows, even the withdrawal of rest-day working can have a massive impact in an industry that has a dearth of drivers.

Yet the standoff does threaten to escalate. There is no obvious answer to the changing patterns of travel and lower revenue for the railway, which has so many fixed costs. One target could be the rolling stock companies, who have continued to make vast profits. But rail pay and productivity will come first – and the prospect of a quiet settlement, with the kind of index-linked pay rise normally enjoyed across all ranks, has receded with galloping inflation.

That makes the stakes higher for staff, whose wages are eroded, but also for ministers, who appear to be heeding – despite protestations – the Bank of England governor, Andrew Bailey, who urged pay restraint to curb inflation, despite the cost-of-living crisis.

The bigger immediate political headache may not be so much that the railway stalls – but that the outcome will be watched intently by other parts of the public sector, also desperate for a pay rise, who can wear the badge of pandemic frontline heroes with even more justification than railway staff.
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Reading General
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« Reply #88 on: May 30, 2022, 12:05:10 pm »

It does if it costs money to staff sales points? (Just making the point, not saying I'm in agreement)
Perhaps, but doing away with the old is of no benefit to those using the new. It is simply saving money for a private rail operator, the profit of which goes to shareholders. It’s not as if journeys will be overall improved for the majority using a new method by doing away with the old, or become cheaper as the public pocket isn’t supposed to be supporting it. Staff may not be of use to most on the modern railway but retaining them is a way of creating equal access. Transport should be under heavier scrutiny with changes as the alternatives for an individual may not exist, unlike retail where a different shop could be chosen.

Requiring continued investment, understanding and a charged battery of personal technology to go about everyday business may be the norm for most but not all, and we should all be on board with keeping options open for those people whom it isn’t the norm until we can come up with a way that everyone can use without playing catch up, and on public transport, a universal free card system for everything seems the most sensible option, even if that is to purchase a paper ticket.
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JayMac
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« Reply #89 on: May 30, 2022, 12:28:18 pm »

*Rant*

What point are you actually trying to prove with this needless pedantry over where, when and in what format the editorial I quoted was published? I saw it on the Guardian website, where it says its a Guardian editorial, and that's from where I linked and quoted.

I'm fully aware of the Guardian Media Group's setup, and the Observer's place in it. I also know that the Observer's business agenda (looking to the week ahead) is different to the groups' editorials. Hence why the piece you've quoted isn't the same ("That was in today's Observer") as the one I posted.

*Rant over*

Perhaps back to the actually topic of the looming strikes Chris? Roll Eyes

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