Rail union to hold protest at Waterloo station over service cuts

  • Geoff Kite, Wessex Regional Organiser, RMT

The biggest rail workers union is holding a protest today as it steps up its campaign against job losses in the industry.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will demonstrate outside Waterloo station in London, kicking off a week of campaigning action.

The union is warning that a number of train operators are in the process of consulting to make service cuts.

South Western Railway is one of the operators consulting on the future of services, which could see certain routes cut by up to a third.

Read more: South Western Railway considers cuts to services post-Covid putting jobs at risk

Passengers leave a train that has arrived at London Waterloo.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:

"We're launching this campaign to send a clear message to private train operators and the Government that RMT will simply not accept any cuts to services and attacks on jobs and pay on the railway.

"It wasn't long ago that the Government promised they were going to "reverse the Beeching cuts" but with these proposals they are trashing that promise and instead preparing to unleash 'Beeching Two' on our railways.

"These cuts to services are regressive, short-sighted and embarrassing for the Government.

"In the year that the UK hosts vital climate talks at Cop26, cutting rail services is sending a terrible message that public transport is expendable and not an essential part of the solution to the climate crisis."

A SWR spokesperson said: “The timetable we are proposing from December 2022 will represent a significant increase on our current service levels and provide 93% of our pre-COVID capacity."

"With customer journeys forecast to return to 76% of pre-pandemic levels, it is appropriate that we right-size our services to match demand, improve reliability for our customers and reduce costs for the taxpayer."

Passengers can be seen on the concourse at London Waterloo.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said:

"Throughout the course of the pandemic, taxpayers have provided an unprecedented more than £12 billion of support to keep services running and protect frontline jobs.

"As we begin the biggest reforms to our railways in a generation, we will continue to invest in expanding and upgrading our network. That includes through reversing Beeching cuts and ensuring services are punctual, reliable and meet passenger demand."