Racegoers are being urged to allow extra time for travelling to Royal Ascot this week as rail strike action starts.
South Western Rail (SWR) services, including the Reading, Guilford and London Waterloo trains which run to Ascot station, are being affected by industrial action from today (18 June) and will continue until Saturday (22 June) the same dates as Royal Ascot. A reduced service will run across the SWR network; some routes will have no service, or replacement buses will run instead.
The action has been brought by the RMT Union, which has called for SWR guard, commercial guard, and driver members to take industrial action “by not booking on for duty” over the five days as part of a dispute over the future of guards on SWR trains.
A spokesman for SWR said the action was “very disappointing”.
In a statement on the SWR website the spokesman said dates had been agreed with RMT last week for “constructive talks” but the union was “insistent on the unnecessary strike”.
“Clearly, they have decided to target popular events such as Royal Ascot with this cynical action which is driven by internal RMT politics,” said the spokesman.
“Passengers are strongly advised to plan their travel in advance as services are likely to be busier than usual because of the strike action. Rail replacement services and ticket acceptance on other bus and rail networks have been organised where possible, whilst fans attending events at Twickenham, Hampton Court, Royal Ascot and elsewhere are advised to allow extra time for their travel.
“Customers will be able to see amendments to their train services, including additional main line peak-time services over and above what has been previously announced, live on our website: southwesternrailway.com/rmtstrike.”
In a statement on the RMT website general secretary Mick Cash said RMT members had been left with “no choice” but to go ahead with the strike action.
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“They are angry and frustrated that despite suspending action in good faith, and entering into talks in a positive and constructive manner, South Western Railway have dragged their heels and failed to bolt down an agreement that matches up to our expectations on the guard guarantee,” said Mr Cash.
“We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that this dispute is all about safety, access and passenger service on Britain’s increasingly violent and dangerous railways.”
A spokesman for Royal Ascot did not wish to comment on the strike action but said visitors are advised to check the SWR website for the latest information.
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